On 30 July 2020 the Irish High Court rejected an application for an interim injunction by Ryanair, the well-known airline, against Skyscanner, a meta-search site for travel and other services.
Ryanair sought an order restraining Skyscanner from facilitating the sale of Ryanair flights on the Skyscanner website by certain on-line travel agents such as lastminute.com and kiwi.com that operate on that site. In its interim injunction application, Ryanair sought to deal with those situations where a Ryanair flight is booked by an on-line travel agent for a passenger via the Skyscanner website. In particular, Ryanair sought an injunction obliging Skyscanner to require those on-line travel agents whose booking of a Ryanair flight has been facilitated by Skyscanner on its website to provide Ryanair with a personal e-mail address of the passenger (for example firstname.lastname@example.org), rather than an e-mail address created by the on-line travel agent for the passenger in order to book the flight for that passenger (for example email@example.com).
In seeking this injunction to ensure that on-line travel agents on the Skyscanner website do not provide what Ryanair calls “fake” e-mail addresses for passengers, Ryanair wishes to ensure that it can directly contact the passengers flying on its flight rather than having as its passenger contact an e-mail address of the on-line travel agency. In support of its application Ryanair relied primarily on the inconvenience and frustration caused to passengers who discover that they cannot pass the security or identification procedure on the Ryanair website or with the Ryanair call centre without their personal e-mail address.
The High Court rejected the application for an injunction on various grounds. First, the Court considered that Ryanair was seeking a mandatory injunction and had not satisfied the Court that it met the high threshold for mandatory injunctions. Second, in terms of the balance of justice, the Court found that there were multiple other ways in which Ryanair could deal with the security or identification procedure on the Ryanair website or with the Ryanair call centre, most notably through the use of names and dates of birth. Finally, the Court was concerned under competition law that Ryanair had in other interim injunction cases called for consumers to avoid so-called “screen scrapers” such as Skyscanner, since this could amount to a form of collective boycott, a potentially serious matter under competition law.
Robert O'Donoghue QC acted for Skyscanner in relation to the competition law issues, instructed by William Fry.