30 November 2022, Virtual
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
Ryanair is again in the news. Having dumped travel agents it now is attacking them for charging their customers for the time and effort spend in organising and booking tickets. Is it just yet another publicity stunt, or is the airline, for practical purposes based at Stansted, and never ever having paid shareholders a dividend, serious in what it is doing?
No doubt it will be amongst the first of topics debated as the business travel industry gathers this week at Olympia. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is up in arms over the latest reported outburst by Ryanair CE Michael O”Leary that agents should be precluded from charging customers a fee to purchase airline tickets seems to top it all.
Ryanair, which does not pay commissions, appears to us to have no legal authority to dictate how travel agents operate in a free market. It takes a special kind of audacity to insinuate that travel agents” prices are misleading to the consumer when the airline advertises a ”5 fare, but ends up charging the consumer ten times that amount after miscellaneous fees, taxes and surcharges have been added. So long as an agency”s advertising is crystal clear, it is not, and never has been, illegal to charge a service fee, say ABTA officials. O”Leary is less convinced. He has threatened to take to court several agencies throughout the EU to set a precedent making service fees illegal.
But ABTA is threatening its own legal action. The travel agency association has said it will lodge complaints with the Office of Fair Trading and the European Commission claiming that Ryanair is engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.
ABTA”s chief complaints rest on the Ryanair's opposition to allow service fees, cutting commissions, booking problems and allegedly barring agents from selling the cheapest fares.