Ryanair Faces Investigation Over Alleged Anti-Competitive Practices in Italy

The Competition and Market Guarantor Authority has initiated an inquiry into Ryanair, the dominant operator in scheduled air passenger transport to and from Italy. The investigation is prompted by concerns of possible anti-competitive behavior with exclusionary effects.

This investigation, which began following several reports received since May, focuses on Ryanair’s alleged exploitation of its dominant market position to expand into other areas of tourism services, including hotels and car rentals. This expansion is suspected to come at the expense of both online and offline travel agencies, as well as their customers who rely on these agencies to book such services.

Ryanair stands accused of hindering travel agencies from purchasing airline tickets directly from its website while offering less favorable conditions for ticket purchases through traditional agencies via the GDS platform. These actions may have negative consequences not only for travel agencies but also for end consumers, potentially leading to reduced service quality, quantity, and unwarranted booking complications.

In response to the investigation, Ryanair’s CEO, Eddie Wilson, expressed readiness to cooperate, expressing hope that the inquiry will also highlight potential shortcomings of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). Ryanair argues that booking directly on their website ensures passengers receive the lowest fares and enables direct communication with passengers regarding safety declarations and legal regulations.

Remarkably, Ryanair has expressed surprise that the Italian Competition and Market Authority has not shown interest in the fact that prices for Ryanair flights and optional services on OTA websites often exceed Ryanair’s original prices by up to 200%. This suggests a desire for a more comprehensive investigation into industry practices.

This investigation underscores the ongoing scrutiny of competition within the travel and tourism sector and the importance of fair and transparent practices that benefit both travel agencies and consumers.

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