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Ryanair Boeing 737-800 plane taking off Alamy Stock Photo

Competition watchdog pays surprise visit to Ryanair's Dublin office as part of Italian probe

Ryanair has alleged that online travel agents, including those in Italy, are overcharging customers, referring to the agencies as “pirates”.

OFFICERS FROM IRELAND’S competition watchdog have carried out a surprise inspection at Ryanair’s Dublin office.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) made the unannounced visit at 12:30 pm today on behalf of its Italian counterpart, the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM). 

“This unannounced inspection forms part of an ongoing investigation by the AGCM into potential breaches of EU competition law. Authorised Officers from the CCPC were supported by colleagues from the AGCM and from An Garda Síochána,” the commission told The Journal in a statement. 

Competition watchdog agencies across the European Union can carry out inspections like the one today at the request of their counterparts in different countries. 

In a statement, Ryanair welcomed the inspection and said it was part of an investigation in Italy into claims made by Italian online travel agents (OTAs) and traditional travel agencies about “Ryanair’s long running campaign to protect consumers from digital piracy and OTA overcharging”. 

This is not the first time Ryanair and Italian competition authorities have clashed - the company was fined €3 million for its baggage policy in 2019. The current Italian Government launched a probe into the airline’s practices last autumn, specifically to look at Ryanair’s potential abuses of its dominant market position. 

Ryanair has alleged that online travel agents, including those in Italy, are overcharging customers, referring to the agencies as “pirates”. 

“Ryanair and its team are happy to fully cooperate with this investigation into its long running and increasingly successful campaign to prevent digital piracy and consumer overcharging by Italian OTAs,” the statement read. 

The airline said that a number of Italian OTAs have recently made deals with the company “under which they agreed to stop screen scraping the website and to stop overcharging consumers with inflated air fares, inflated ancillary fees and invented fees for non-existent services”. 

“The Milan Court of Appeal in Feb 2024 dismissed false claims by Italian OTAs that Ryanair was in breach of Italian competition law,” the airline said. 

Ryanair is also involved in a long-running dispute with some of Europe’s largest OTAs, including and Kayak. 

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