Ryanair suing Skyscanner for allegedly selling flights through its domain

Airline alleges selling on of flights breaches licensing agreement on data, court hears

Ryanair is suing flight-price comparison website Skyscanner for allegedly selling the airline's flights through its own domain and through links to online travel agents.

It is also seeking an injunction requiring London-based Skyscanner, Skyscanner Holdings and Skyscanner 2018, to end the selling-on through the use of “screenscraping” whereby the information on the Ryanair website is used for comparing the prices of similar flights.

The dispute arose after Ryanair discovered last November that Skyscanner had been permitting website users to use a “green flights filter”, to only show results for flights with lower CO2 emissions.

Ryanair became concerned it was being ranked and/or filtered in an inaccurate and/or unfair manner.

Ryanair says it entered into a licensing agreement 2011 whereby, for a donation of €100 to charity, Skyscanner would be allowed use the airline’s data on price, flight and timetabling for the purpose of price comparison.

Ryanair says it has spent more than €20 million since 2000 on purchasing and upgrading the Navitaire “open skies” technology for its website through which it sells 99 per cent of its flights.

While there have been disputes since 2011 with Skyscanner in relation to alleged breaches of the data-use licence, they were resolved through negotiation, Ryanair’s head of legal Thomas McNamara said in an affidavit.

Licensing agreement

Recently, Skyscanner began selling Ryanair flights through its own domain and through domains linked from its website to online travel agents, Mr McNamara said.

This had its roots in a dispute between the parties in relation to the “greener flight filter” initiative of Skyscanner.

The selling on of flights amounts to a breach of the licensing agreement on use of Ryanair data, Mr McNamara said.

It also seems to be the case that all third-party operators who are selling Ryanair flights advertised on Skyscanner are doing so at a mark-up when it would have been cheaper for a customer to book directly through Ryanair, he said.

In selling on, Skycanner, either on its own domain in conjunction with Kiwi. com, or via other linked domains, is failing to ensure Ryanair is provided with a direct email or phone number of the purchaser of Ryanair flights, he said.

This deprives the airline of a direct line of communication with the customer and creates difficulties in complying with aviation regulations in relation to flight cancellations and other passenger matters, he said.

On Monday, Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, asked Mr Justice David Barniville to admit Ryanair's case to the fast-track Commercial Court.

Michael Howard SC, for Skyscanner, said his side was agreeable to conditional entry of the matter in the commercial list, but he asked it be put back to later this week so he could get further instructions. The judge agreed to the adjournment.