Low-cost airline Ryanair and Czech ticket retailer Kiwi have been in legal disputes for many years. The European Court of Justice has now decided that the low-cost provider must also make a compensation payment if information about the cancellation of a flight was given in good time.
The background is that many so-called online travel agents use so-called screen scraping when selling flight tickets. There are usually no official contracts with the airlines. In order to prevent the passenger from contacting the airline directly, contact details that are generated automatically are usually stored, but not the actual e-mail address of the customer. It was precisely this circumstance that led to the case ending up before the European Court of Justice.
In fact, one could assume that Ryanair has complied with all information obligations by emailing it more than two weeks before departure that the flight will not take place. However, Kiwi.com never forwarded this email to the passenger, so the information never reached him. The European Court of Justice has now decided that the airline is still obliged to make the compensation payment in such a case.
What is remarkable about this judgment is that Ryanair has been taking legal action against so-called OTAs for many years and has also conducted numerous lawsuits against Kiwi.com. The carrier takes the view that only one has the right to sell one's own flight tickets. So far, the low-cost airline has lost most of the processes. Incidentally, one of Ryanair's arguments is that online travel agents usually do not pass on the contact details of travelers or enter fake e-mail addresses.
In the case that ended up before the ECJ, the passengers only wanted to know via web check-in the day before departure that their flight would not take place. The first instance ruled that Ryanair had complied with the information obligation and was not liable for Kiwi.com's failure to pass on the cancellation email. The plaintiffs did not want to put up with this and appealed. The district court then referred the case to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.
This decided in favor of the passengers and stated that passengers in this special constellation have the right to a compensation payment. This indirectly established that airlines can be held liable for non-disclosure of information by OTAs, even in the absence of an official distribution agreement. The European Court of Justice thus remains true to its ruling practice. In a similar constellation, a decision was also made in favor of travelers in 2017.