CMA need to investigate “Rip-off” Ryanair API booking fees.

Love Holidays are proudly claiming to be the “World first Ryanair-verified package holiday provider” but fail to mention the whopping premium customers are required to pay Ryanair for the privilege of booking “officially”.

In their joint press release with Ryanair, Love Holidays misleadingly state “Loveholidays has agreed to only display Ryanair’s real prices, without mark-ups and will only pass accurate customer contact and payment details to the airline.”

However, it appears that Ryanair’s “Real Prices” are not the ones stated on their direct website, but ones that contain a considerable Ryanair booking premium. As illustrated in the three examples below for departures on the 1st of Oct 2024, a couple of 2 adults must pay a “whopping” premium for the privilege of an “official” package

  • Bournemouth to Majorca = £50.90 Extra per booking
  • Manchester to Tenerife = £36.78 Extra per booking
  • Liverpool to Ibiza = £47.60 Extra per booking.

Unlike other low-cost carriers who charge OTA’s a fixed API fee per flight sector, Ryanair seem to be yielding the charge depending on the competitiveness of the route and charging fees far in excess of any possible cost of operating the service.

Although I have no insider knowledge of Ryanair’s costs, it is generally accepted that distributing fairs via API to third parties, costs a maximum of £2.00-£3.00 per return flight, meaning that Ryanair are clearly “profiteering” at the expense of their customers.

Ironically, the Love Holidays deal and Ryanair’s ridiculous booking premiums, will strengthen the legal and moral arguments of other OTAs who continue to “Screen Scape” Ryanair’s fairs from its website.

Judges often base their decisions on preventing “Customer Harm”.

Ryanair has always accused OTAs of acting as “Pirates” illegally marking up the fair’s customers would pay on their direct website, to the detriment of customers. However, Ryanair has taken these fees to never-seen-before levels, charging Love Holidays customers a massive £50 premium to book their flights as part of an OTA package compared to their website.

In my opinion, few Judges will look upon this kindly!

However, it is the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that needs to wake up and fulfil its stated remit of “promoting competitive markets and tackling unfair behaviour”.

Ryanair has bullied the OTA market for many years, introducing extra “Facial Recognition” check-in steps to disadvantage customers booking via OTAs and blocking thousands of attempted bookings from OTAs. I believe this to be an “abuse” by a dominant market player, who is using these tactics to enforce unreasonable contractual terms for selling their flights via their official XML API’s.

I have today written to the CMA providing evidence of these unreasonable fees and hopefully will find support for this stance, within the remaining OTA community who are yet to buckle to Ryanair’s terms.

As stated previously, I completely understand that Love Holidays needed to secure guaranteed access to Ryanair’s flights ahead of their impending sale, but I do fear that unless Ryanair is successful in bringing other OTA’s like On the Beach to the table, that their price competitiveness will be badly damaged.

Historically, Ryanair was often provided the lowest fare lead prices for OTA’s, specifically, because the OTA’s where screen scraping and avoiding API fees. This led to 50% of many OTA’s holiday sales being based on Ryanair flights, making any sudden price increase in price due to API fees either highly damaging to price competitiveness or a massive opportunity if you continue to screen scrape.

The Ryanair V OTA battle is therefore like to escalate further, rather than be resolved by this API booking option.

Who will win remains to be seen, but a CMA investigation seems inevitable.

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