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Ryanair boss urges rival airlines to help him close down metasearch

Posted by Phil Davieson
Ryanair boss urges rival airlines to help him close down metasearch

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has fired a broadside against flight price comparison websites, claiming they “make no sense” and “shouldn’t exist”.

He has written to four other leading airlines in Europe asking them to display each other’s fares on their websites in an effort to cut out third party sites.

It remains unclear which websites O’Leary has in his sights, but mainstream media reports suggest Skyscanner, Expedia and Google could be among them.

The latter would be the most surprising as O’Leary only last year announced the airline was working with Google on its Flight Search meta product and this would revolutionise the market. 

In his latest outburst, O’Leary did not name the airlines he has contacted, but they are understood to be IAG (British Airways/Iberia), Air France/KLM, Lufthansa and easyJet, the Guardian reported.

“I think it is something the big airlines could and should work together on because I think it makes no sense for third-party price comparison websites out there,” O’Leary said.

“If the airlines were competitive and had a competent digital offering those kind of websites shouldn’t exist.”

He said that with Ryanair attracting millions of new passengers, it often had sold out flights and could re-direct customers elsewhere.

The concept of travel competitors advertising each other’s deals and driving additional revenue on the click through is well-established in the US.

Intent Media, which recently set up a base in the UK, has developed technology that allows OTAs to, in effect, become metasearch sites by delivering competitor advertising to visitors considered unlikely to convert.

O’Leary’s comments came as Ryanair posted a 25% hike in quarterly profits, with rising passenger numbers attributed to its new customer service initiatives.

The airline predicted that fares will fall by 4%-8% in the second half of 2015, as cheap fuel prompts a price war among European airlines.

Related: Guest Post: Michael O’Leary is smart to call for airline websites to show competitor’s fares

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