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Ryanair agrees first deal with online travel agent

Partnership branded  ‘a very important step forward’ by Ryanair  (PA Archive)
Partnership branded ‘a very important step forward’ by Ryanair (PA Archive)

Ryanair has launched its first partnership with an online travel agent (OTA) – despite repeatedly branding the companies “pirates”.

The Dublin-based airline said it has agreed a deal with loveholidays to offer its flights as part of package trips.

Ryanair has previously strongly complained about OTAs selling its flights without permission.

Last week it highlighted companies such as Kiwi.com, Opodo, eDreams and lastminute.com overcharging passengers.

There is also an issue with passengers’ contact details not being passed on, making it difficult to provide travel updates and process refunds.

Ryanair insisted its partnership with loveholidays is “transparent” as travellers will not pay more than if they book direct, and the airline will receive accurate contact details.

At a press conference in London, Ryanair’s director of marketing, communications and digital Dara Brady claimed it was “a historic day” for the carrier.

He said: “Nobody is looking to overcharge customers here. 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.”

He went on: “From a Ryanair respective I think it’s a very important step forward.

“We will continue to campaign hard against OTAs who don’t play by the rules. They’re pirates, we don’t want to deal with them.

“For legitimate partners like loveholidays – who are invested in the customer and are going to not apply mark-ups, and will give us the correct customer information – we’re happy to work with them.”

Loveholidays is the third largest provider of package holidays in the UK, and the largest OTA.

Chief marketing officer Al Murray said: “This new partnership highlights our commitment to championing consumer choice, with the overall aim of making travel more affordable and accessible while opening the world to everyone.”

Ryanair said OTAs stopped selling its flights in December, which caused a slight decrease in the proportion of seats filled on its aircraft.

Mr Brady said the loveholiday partnership is “certainly not in response to that” as the airline was happy for OTAs not to sell its flights.