Ryanair wants Irish courts to block Skyscanner from selling its flights

Airline obtained injunction in Germany to stop display of fares with hidden charges

Mr Justice David Barniville formally admitted Ryanair’s action for damages and unjust enrichment against the London-based flight comparison website Skyscanner. Photograph: PA Wire

Mr Justice David Barniville formally admitted Ryanair’s action for damages and unjust enrichment against the London-based flight comparison website Skyscanner. Photograph: PA Wire

 

Ryanair wants the Irish courts to bar price comparison website Skyscanner from selling its flights with what the airline alleges are hidden charges.

A Hamburg court recently made an interim order barring Skyscanner in Germany from, among other things, displaying Ryanair fares with hidden extra charges for flights and check-in luggage.

Ryanair intends asking the Commercial Court for a similar order in April. The Hamburg injunction only applies in Germany, but an Irish ruling could be enforced against Skyscanner across the EU if the airline succeeds.

The Irish courts ultimately adjudicate disputes over the Ryanair website which means that any orders they make relating to it apply across Europe.

The commercial court will hear Ryanair’s application for an injunction against Skyscanner in April.

Mr Justice David Barniville also formally admitted Ryanair’s action for damages and unjust enrichment against London-based Skyscanner, Skyscanner Holdings and Skyscanner 2018.

Both sides told Justice Barniville that they consented to have the case admitted to the Commercial Court’s fast-track list.

Explaining the background to both the Irish and German cases, Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair chief marketing officer, said the airline believed that when customers clicked on Skyscanner’s display of its fares, they were diverted to third parties which resulted in people paying hidden fees when they booked flights.

Mr Jacobs added that Ryanair feared that this system resulted in customers not receiving all information about their flights.

Agreement

Ryanair had an agreement with Skyscanner allowing the price comparison website to display its prices. Customers booked their flights directly from the airline’s own inventory with no extra charges rather than going through a third party.

“Skyscanner were doing it the right way, but they changed tack late last year,” Mr Jacobs said.

He added that the airline recognised that price comparison websites played a significant role in the market, so was prepared to work with them, once they abided by the terms of any licence.

The court yesterday heard that the case arises from what Ryanair claims is a breach of an agreement whereby its flight information can only be used by third parties for the purpose of price comparison.

Ryanair says, while there have been disputes since 2011 with Skyscanner in relation to alleged breaches of that data use licence, they were resolved through negotiation.

It claims Skyscanner began selling Ryanair flights through its own domain and through domains linked from its website to online travel agents.

The application to enter the main case into the fast-track commercial list was adjourned last Monday to allow Skyscanner’s counsel to take instructions.

Justice Barniville admitted the case to the list and directed the injunction application will be heard in April.