Online travel agency On the Beach Group has been awarded £2 million in a UK high court ruling about Ryanair refunds.
The award is part of a case that was launched in October 2021, as On the Beach sued Ryanair for blocking the OTA from booking flights with the airline and sought damages over refunds that it had paid out.
On the Beach said package travel rules had meant it had to refund customers for cancelled flights that Ryanair did not pay back, worth £48.7 million.
In a statement on Tuesday (October 31), On the Beach said: “The High Court of Justice found in [OTB’s] favour in its application for summary judgment against Ryanair for refunds paid to customers by On the Beach following flights which were cancelled or subject to a major change during the pandemic. The case was launched in October 2021.
“The court found that Ryanair had no real prospect of successfully defending the claims that it was obliged to refund the monies to On the Beach.
“As such, On the Beach has been awarded the sum of c£2m and will also be seeking its costs of the proceedings.”
A spokesperson for On the Beach said most of the £48.7 million was claimed back through chargeback and £2 million is the outstanding amount that could not be claimed via chargeback.
The OTA added: “Since the commencement of this claim, On the Beach has continued to provide its customers with cash refunds in circumstances where Ryanair has not yet provided a refund and will be taking steps to recover these sums.”
Shaun Morton, chief executive of On the Beach, said: “We welcome the High Court’s decision to uphold our application for Ryanair to pay back what was owed.
“Today’s outcome sends an important message on how refunds should be handled and emphasises the industry’s responsibility to holidaymakers.
“On The Beach is committed to doing the right thing for its customers and provided full cash refunds for flights that were cancelled or subject to major changes during the pandemic whether or not airlines had complied with their obligations.”
He added: “We continue to call on the CMA to review the anti-competitive behaviour by certain low-cost airlines, protecting consumer choice with fair access to flights and a code of conduct for airlines and travel agents.
“It has taken a protracted and expensive legal process to reach today’s outcome which could and should have been avoided. We urge the Department for Business and Trade to consider this in its current consultation on the Package Travel Regulations.”
Ryanair also welcomed the UK high court ruling saying it confirms that OTAs must “demonstrate that they have actually paid flight refunds to consumers before Ryanair reimburses any monies to these OTAs”.
Dara Brady, marketing and digital director at Ryanair, said: “This has been Ryanair’s long-standing practice, following numerous cases of refunds paid by airlines to OTAs during Covid not being passed on to passengers.
“Passengers whose bookings were made by OTA bots can avail directly of Ryanair’s enhanced-security refund procedures to ensure they receive any applicable refunds directly.”
He reiterated how Ryanair has no commercial relationship with OTA “pirate” website On the Beach and it “strongly” objects to the agency “miss-selling our flights”.
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