The two low-cost carrier mavericks, Ryanair and Southwest, are pursuing different distribution strategies with online travel agencies. Ryanair is seeking direct agreements, and Southwest just sues those that gain unauthorized access.
In November, Czech Republic-based Kiwi.com was “celebrating” three court wins against Ryanair: The companies have battled for years over Kiwi screen-scraping Ryanair’s website without authorization to obtain fares.
Ryanair has called companies like Kiwi “pirates.” But on Monday, it announced a partnership with Kiwi, which it labeled its largest online travel agency booking source. Last week, Ryanair announced its only other online travel agency partnership, this one with UK-based loveholidays.com, the airline’s fourth-largest online travel customer source.
“We think historically, these OTA pirates generally account for between 10% and 15% of our volume,” Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said Monday during an earnings call. Several online travel agencies ceased scraping Ryanair without authorization in December after an Irish court prohibited the practice.
The Ryanair-Kiwi Terms
Under the new agreement, Kiwi gets direct access to Ryanair’s fares — no need for screen-scraping — and Kiwi agreed to stop “overcharging” flyers for Ryanair flights and ancillary services, such as bag fees.
The two also resolved a major sticking point: Kiwi agreed to provide Ryanair with “direct accurate customer contact and payment details to Ryanair.”
This was a major issue during the pandemic when Kiwi customers sought refunds for cancelled flights, and Ryanair didn’t have email addresses and other contact information because flyers had booked their tickets through Kiwi.