The low-cost airline Ryanair regularly accuses competitors such as the Lufthansa Group, IAG and Air France-KLM of having a dominant market position that would be exploited in their core markets. Now the low-coster itself has to deal with this accusation made by Italy's competition authority.
The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato has initiated official proceedings against Ryanair. The low-cost airline is accused of having a dominant market position in domestic traffic and on routes to/from Italy and of exploiting this “in markets in which Ryanair operates in order to extend its power to the offer of other tourist services (e.g. hotels and car rentals), to the detriment of travel agencies - online and offline - and the customers who use them to purchase these services.
The procedure is not initiated ex officio, but rather based on an unspecified number of statements of facts that have been submitted since May 2022. Some of these appear to come from online travel agents, as part of the accusation concerns ticket sellers who feel disadvantaged when selling Ryanair tickets. The carrier has also been relying on GDS sales for some time now, but legal action is sometimes taken against OTAs that sell using screen scraping without a corresponding agreement. Even passengers who purchase their flight tickets through such intermediaries are harassed. Specifically, this is called “OTA verification”, which is also subject to a fee.
The Italian competition authority is of the opinion that travel agencies and not airline websites are still the first port of call for holiday travel. Nevertheless, the Ryanair page is considered more or less the same as the agencies due to the large scope of additional services provided. However, it is suspected that the fact that Ryanair is resisting sales through intermediaries could lead to a worsening of choice for consumers.
It is quite interesting that Ryanair also has a high market share in terms of passenger numbers. According to ENAC, there were a total of 2022 million passengers to/from and within Italy in 164,3. Of these, 45,6 million travelers are said to have traveled to the Irish low-coster. Its competitor Ita Airways is far behind with 10,3 million passengers. The Italian authorities put Ryanair's market share at 34,6 percent. This makes you the market leader.
The low-cost airline in question does not seem to have any problem with the investigation initiated by the competition authority, and even feels confirmed in its previous course. A spokesperson said, among other things: “”We welcome the investigation by the Italian antitrust authority, which makes it clear to passengers that they should book directly on Ryanair.com to get the cheapest fares and that we can communicate directly with them to ensure this “that they make the necessary safety declarations and are directly informed of all safety and regulatory protocols on their trip, as required by law”.