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Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warns against online travel agent pirates

Ryanair boss warns against online travel ‘pirates’: O’Leary claims firms overcharge customers and prevent airlines contacting them directly

The boss of Ryanair has lashed out at regulators for failing to take action against online travel agents.

Michael O’Leary claims the firms overcharge customers for flights and prevent airlines contacting them directly with refund information.

He has reported the online ‘pirates’ to the Civil Aviation Authority and Competition and Markets Authority, but says that they are not interested in protecting customers.

Complaints: Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary claims online travel agents overcharge customers for flights and prevent airlines contacting them directly with refund information

Mr O’Leary estimates that between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of Ryanair flights are booked via an online travel agency, amounting to as many as 25 million passengers a year.

He says they are often charged a premium for the flight as well as higher fees for extras, including baggage and seat reservations.

Yet when customers make the payment, some agents then transfer the cost of the flight to Ryanair using a virtual credit card and made-up email address, rather than the passenger’s real details, he explains. 

So when flights are later amended or cancelled and the information is sent to the email addresses on file, customers do not receive it.

Customers may also not receive a full refund because Ryanair only repays the cost of the flight, leaving passengers battling online agents for any extras.

In December last year, Money Mail revealed how some online travel agents were charging twice the amount for flights and deducting fees from refunds. 

One Ryanair flight from London to Edinburgh cost £32.99 on — a 138 per cent increase on the price paid when booking direct with the airline.

And another agent, eSky, charged 40 per cent more for a return flight to Lanzarote.

The Competition and Markets Authority would not comment on whether it was investigating but says that it will consider any evidence it receives.

The Civil Aviation Authority did not respond to requests for comment.