Online travel giant Booking.com is seeking damages from Ryanair for what it claims is “tortious” legal actions against it.
ooking.com has made the counterclaim in a case taken by the airline against the travel company and its subsidiaries over alleged screen-scraping of Ryanair’s fares.
The travel group has also asked a US court to prevent Ryanair from contacting Booking.com’s customers in a manner that “interferes” with its customer relationships and “defames” Booking.com.
Ryanair initiated legal action against Booking.com and its subsidiaries – Kayak.com, Priceline.com and Agoda.com – in 2020 in Delaware.
It has claimed that the defendants are depriving Ryanair “of the opportunity to maximise its revenues” from its own website.
The carrier claimed that Booking.com had bypassed the airline’s website security and engaged in so-called screen-scraping of its fares.
Screen-scraping involves a third party accessing an airline’s website and often offering fares to its own customers via its own website. Screen-scraped fares can be more expensive for customers than if they had bought tickets directly from the airline’s website. Ryanair says the third-party websites are not authorised to sell its tickets.
Booking.com has denied the allegations made by Ryanair in the case filed in Delaware.
This week, in response to an amended complaint filed by the airline in the case, Booking.com has asked the court to award it damages because of Ryanair’s behaviour.
“Ryanair’s wrongful conduct – including its defamatory accusations and misrepresentations to Booking.com’s customers – harms what Booking.com has built,” the online travel group alleges in its counterclaim against the airline.
Booking.com claims that Ryanair has “publicly disparaged” Booking.com and other online travel agents, and sent “accusatory and disparaging emails” to Booking.com customers who have booked Ryanair flights over the online travel group’s website.
It alleges that Ryanair – headed by Michael O’Leary – made “false and misleading” statements to Booking.com customers.
Booking.com alleges that in its communications with the online travel group’s customers, Ryanair stated that Booking.com may be applying “massive mark-ups” to the fares, has provided the airline with “false customer details”, and has used “screen-scraper” software to “mis-sell” Ryanair flights.
Booking.com has insisted it does none of these things.
“Booking.com has suffered and will continue to suffer both reputational and monetary harm caused by Ryanair’s defamatory statements.”
Earlier this year, Ryanair won a case against online travel firm Lastminute.com. A Paris court ordered Lastminute to stop selling the airline’s tickets over its website.
“Ryanair’s direct to customers distribution model provides our customers with the best choice, care, and lowest fares,” said Ryanair director of marketing and digital, Dara Brady, at the time.
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