Following a bitter row with online travel agents (OTAs) that left Ryanair flights emptier than usual after the airline demanded OTAs remove Ryanair from their websites, the Irish so-called “budget” carrier has turned round and agreed a deal with one of its OTA frenemies.
In a series of extraordinary outbursts and bizarre diatribes in Ryanair press statements last year, the airline accused OTAs of being “pirates” who were running “scams”. It failed to recognise any value in the service offered by OTAs and raged about them selling its flights at inflated costs without permission.
The airline also complained repeatedly about OTA failure to communicate passenger details, claiming that this affected the flow of information between passengers and the airline. OTAs, whose services include the collation of flights so that customers have the chance to compare times, cost and duration, accused Ryanair in return of wanting to scrape passenger information for direct selling.
Book direct to get lowest fares
As recently as December 2023, Ryanair trumpeted that OTAs were finally removing its flights from their “OTA Pirate websites” and said it would celebrate and mark the occasion “by lowering fares where necessary to encourage all passengers to book directly on Ryanair.com where they are guaranteed to always get the lowest air fares without OTA Pirate overcharges, fake contact info, or other pricing/refund scams”.
Now though, in quite the go-around, the airline has announced a partnership with an OTA called “loveholidays”, which will package its flights into wider trips.
Nobody is looking to overcharge customers here.Dara Brady, Ryanair’s director of marketing, communications and digital
Speaking at a London press conference, Ryanair’s director of marketing, communications and digital, Dara Brady, hailed what he called “a historic day” for the airline and denied that the airline was backtracking due to a drop in sales since OTAs stopped featuring its flights.
“Nobody is looking to overcharge customers here,” Brady said. “Nobody is looking for customers not to get the right information, and in the case of where it does go wrong, we’ve a process that guarantees customers can get refunds. We’ve always said that if (OTAs) play by our rules, we’d be happy to work with others.”
Loveholidays is one of the largest package holiday providers in the UK, and the largest OTA.
Its chief marketing officer, Al Murray, declared that the “new partnership” was a win for “consumer choice, with the overall aim of making travel more affordable and accessible while opening the world to everyone.”