Ryanair fails in injunction bid for customer email addresses from Skyscanner

Ryanair fails in injunction bid for customer email addresses from Skyscanner
Ryanair said Skyscanner should provide the email addresses so the airline could directly contact people using its flights. File Picture.

Ryanair has failed to get an injunction requiring Skyscanner to provide it with the email addresses of customers who use the price comparison website to book through online agencies.

Ryanair is seeking to restrain Skyscanner and two associated companies from allegedly facilitating the sale of the airline's flights through other online agents like lastminute.com and kiwi.com in a main action which has yet to be heard.

In that action, Ryanair claims unlawful "screen scraping" by Skyscanner, which involves the use of software to interact with its website to extract and use for commercial gain information like prices and timetables. It says this is in breach of the use of the terms of its website and its intellectual property rights.

In the meantime, it wanted an injunction to stop this activity, whether done through Skyscanner itself or the linked agents, unless Ryanair is provided with personal email addresses and/or phone numbers of the customers.

Skyscanner opposed the injunction application. It also rejects claims of screen scraping and says it is a term meant to demonise something lawful, the compilation and use of data in the public domain.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey refused the injunction application.

He said Ryanair wanted the injunction to deal with situations where its flights are booked by one of the online agents for a passenger via Skycanner.

He noted just four of the 300 online agencies using Skyscanner put an agent-created email address into the Ryanair website rather than the personal email of the passenger.

He said Ryanair claimed it wanted to ensure online agents do not provide what it called "fake" email addresses for passengers.

The airline said it wanted to be able to directly contact people using its flights rather than having the passengers contact an email address of the online agent.

Judge says Ryanair's reasoning relied on inconveniencing passengers who cant pass security identification

The judge said Ryanair's argument relied primarily on inconvenience to passengers who cannot pass through the airline's security identification procedure or call centre using the booking reference and their own personal email addresses.

This is because the passenger may not appreciate that his or her personal address was not used by the online agent but an agent-created email was used when the flight was being booked, it said.

An example of the inconvenience was one passenger with mobility issues who encountered a delay in receiving confirmation she would receive assistance boarding/disembarking because she was unable to confirm her identity initially due to Ryanair not having the online agent address for her, it said.

Ryanair also argued personal emails were important for it to market services such as car hire and hotels to passengers.

Skyscanner claimed Ryanair did not wish to lose significant revenue from those services to the online agents.

Mr Justice Twomey rejected Ryanair's contention for a number of reasons.

These included that the claimed inconvenience to passengers could be alleviated by the airline itself by, for instance, confirming passenger identity by using date of birth or other personal ID information.

It could also lessen inconvenience by not using "Chatbot" software that simulates human responses to communicate with passengers.

The court found the inconvenience and other prejudice claimed by Ryanair was not sufficient to conclude the balance of justice lay in favour of granting the injunction.

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