Ryanair seeks to stop tour group selling its flights


RYANAIR HAS claimed before the High Court that details about people who book its flights through a package holiday website can be seen by other travellers.

The airline is seeking an injunction stopping Club Travel from selling its flights on the grounds that it amounts to wrongful interference with its copyright and database. Club Travel denies the claims.

Because of the way Club sells the flights, customers who book through it have access to information about other travellers’ flights and know when they will be out of the country, Ryanair alleges.

Club customers, it claims, are told not to input their own email address but a specific address which belongs to Club. As a result, Club customers may access details of other passengers who booked flights the same way, Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, argued.

This gives access to information about when other people who booked the flight are abroad and when their homes are unoccupied, counsel said.

Ryanair said it was also concerned that, for the cost of changing a name on a flight, a person who has such access can change the name, address and passport details on another traveller’s flight and obtain that person’s boarding card, he said.

These were serious data protection issues which could expose Ryanair to penalties, he said.

The fact Ryanair needs to email customers if there are any changes to flights, such as occurred during the ash-cloud crisis, showed how important it was for Ryanair to have direct contact with those travelling on its flights, he said.

However, in requiring customers to enter an email address belonging to Club Travel, Ryanair could not directly contact passengers, counsel said.

Other issues arose including the airline’s need to know whether a traveller needs a wheelchair in advance of the flight, counsel added.

Mr Hayden said Ryanair wanted an early hearing of the injunction application and had not complained to the Data Protection Commissioner because it had decided to take High Court proceedings.

Eamonn Marray, for Club, asked if he could have two weeks to allow his side to put in replying affidavits to address a number of matters, including the issue of alleged breach of data protection.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy adjourned the injunction application to next week.

In its application, Ryanair also seeks an injunction prohibiting Club allegedly infringing Ryanair’s database rights by what is called “screen-scraping”.

It also wants an order restraining Club “adding unauthorised and concealed charges” to the cost of Ryanair’s services, giving the impression they are imposed by the airline and so misleading consumers.