Ryanair has refuted industry claims that a new security measure on its website designed to block travel agency sales had cost it up to 80% of sales.
As Travel Weekly reported last week, the airline has started including the reCAPTCHA verification procedure following a search query.
The move appeared to be temporarily reversed last week after 24 hours and amid unsubstantiated claims that Ryanair had lost 80% of sales during the period, but returned this week with additional security features added.
Steve Endacott, On Holiday Group chief executive, estimated that overall the airline could lose around 30% of its business through the measure if customers are not switched from agents to direct bookings.
However, a Ryanair spokesman described the claim as “completely made up”. “The message to your readers is ‘stop selling our product’.
“We will not have any problem in eventually blocking them from the site completely, which is our ultimate goal. We won’t lose a moment’s sleep.”
The spokesman accused travel agents who screen scrape of levying a surcharge of up to 20% when selling Ryanair flights and not looking after their customers during crises like last year’s Icelandic ash cloud.
The Irish budget carrier has fought and lost a number of legal cases around Europe in its attempts to prevent third party sales screen scraping its site. Many firms are able to get around attempts to stifle screen scraping by using companies based outside of the EU.
Although few high street travel agents book Ryanair some of the larger dynamic packaging agencies are thought to be heavily reliant on the airline with up to 60% of sales including a Ryanair flight.
Endacott described the move “deeply anti-consumer” and Ryanair appeared this week to be experimenting with it, the reCAPTCHA step not appearing for all flight search inquiries.