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Ryanair strikes peace deal with ‘pirate’ travel agent

Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary
Deal to end feud with online travel agent comes weeks after Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary labelled operators 'pirates' - Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Ryanair has struck a peace deal with the online travel agent On The Beach weeks after it was branded a “pirate” by the carrier’s chief executive Michael O’Leary.

On The Beach said on Tuesday it had agreed a deal with the low cost airline to sell its flights with “full cost transparency”, bringing a close to hostilities between the two that had even spilled into the courts.

Mr O’Leary had previously accused On The Beach and other online travel agents of ripping off customers.

Earlier this month his company lashed out at On The Beach for charging £125 for a flight change fee, which dwarfs the £45 fee levied by Ryanair.

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On The Beach meanwhile, has denied Ryanair’s claims, accusing the airline of using anti-competitive behaviour to block customers from booking through online travel agents.

On The Beach previously won £2m in damages in a legal battle with Ryanair over refunds for changed and cancelled flights.

On The Beach had said in December it planned to continue to “pursue Ryanair for further sums”.

However, the agent’s chief executive Shaun Morton said the deal announced this week would enable “both parties to move on from outstanding litigation”.

The agreement is the fourth of its kind signed with online travel agents by Ryanair in recent months in an apparent push by the airline to bring an end to its long-running feud with the industry.

It comes after Ryanair flights disappeared from a string of prominent websites such as Booking.com, Kiwi and Kayak in December, which a Booking.com spokesman blamed on new verification measures brought in by the airline.

The carrier said at the time that it welcomed the fact that its flights would no longer be sold by these companies, but the incident weighed on Ryanair’s passenger numbers over the weeks that followed and spurred Ryanair to embark on a spree of discounting.

In January, Ryanair announced it had signed deals with LoveHolidays and Kiwi.com, which agreed to sell tickets at prices agreed with Ryanair and provide more customer information on bookings.

On The Beach said it would guarantee “free and fair access” to supply of Ryanair seats and allow for a “smoother customer journey” when booking flights.

Mr Morton added: “We are excited to have entered into this transformational partnership with Ryanair. This will improve the booking and travel experience for our customers selecting Ryanair flights, while ensuring we can continue to provide customers with best value package holidays.”

Dara Brady, a director at Ryanair, said: “On the Beach customers can now book Ryanair flights, seats, and bags as part of their holiday package with the guarantee that they will have full price transparency of Ryanair products (without any overcharges), and that they will receive any information regarding their flight directly from Ryanair as well as having direct access to their booking through their myRyanair account.”