Car hire business sues DAA over passenger collection dispute

Easirent seeking injunction preventing DAA stopping it from collecting customers

DAA says Easirent is carrying on an unlicensed business activity at the airport’s facilities. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

DAA says Easirent is carrying on an unlicensed business activity at the airport’s facilities. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

An online car hire business fears it will go out of business because Dublin Airport operator DAA will not allow it to pick up its customers at the airport, the High Court has been told.

The claims have been made by ER Travel Ltd, trading as Easirent. com. It is part of a group of companies that offers online car rental services in the UK and the US as well as Ireland.

It has sued DAA for damages over the company’s ongoing refusal to allow it to collect its customers at the airport and take them to its offices some 2km away where they pick-up their rentals.

DAA denies the claims.

It says the company is carrying on an unlicensed business activity at the airport’s facilities which DAA claims breaches bye-laws governing the airport.

As part of its action, Easirent wants an injunction, pending its full case, preventing DAA stopping the firm collecting its customers from the airport’s public car park.

Mr Justice Tony O’Connor was told the company, represented by Hugh O’Keeffe SC, Laurence Masterson BL, instructed by solicitor John Hennessy, commenced operations in 2016, employs 33 people and has offices 2.1km from the airport.

Easirent collects its customers from the airport and brings them to its offices to pick up their rented cars but, a few months after it started trading, DAA sent it a cease and desist letter, counsel said.

The company found this strange as it does not operate in the airport.

In August 2016, the Airport Police, who work for DAA, refused the company’s employees access to the airport car park, counsel said. Taxi and hackney drivers were also told their licences would be revoked if they carried passengers who used Easirent.com’s services, he said.

There were other incidents but things then settled down, counsel said.

‘Hostility’

Last April, there was “an increased level of hostility from the DAA” when Easirent’s drivers taking customers from the airport to its offices were again stopped, counsel said.

This was having a “catastrophic” effect on his client’s operations and it claims a concerted effort by DAA to “destroy its business.”

DAA’s actions are anti-competitive and are being carried out because the firm, unlike other car hire companies, does not operate out of Dublin Airport and does not have a licence agreement with DAA, counsel said.

In a sworn statement, the firm’s managing director Paul Hanley said Airport Police have also been watching its activities away from the airport itself.

He said they “park outside our premises and they clearly give the impression of being concerned only with our activities and not with the Dublin Airport car park”. This was “very unsettling” for his customers, he added.

DAA, represented by James Doherty SC, opposes the application and said the claims concerning the alleged behaviour of the Airport Police are “vigorously denied.”

It also says that no taxi nor hackney was told their licences would be revoked, as claimed.

DAA says it has tried to resolve the ongoing breaches of the bye laws with the company and has repeatedly informed Easirent it is in breach of the bye-laws.

Counsel said DAA’s position is that permission is required by any firm or entity wishing to pick up clients at the airport.

The case continues next week.