Ryanair late last month sued Expedia, accusing the OTA of unlawfully pulling content off of the Ryanair website to enable customers to book Ryanair flights on Expedia

According to a Nov. 29 filing with the U.S. district court in Seattle (Expedia is based in nearby Bellevue, Wash.), Ryanair is alleging that Expedia violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, stating that Ryanair has the exclusive online distribution rights to its bookings and that Expedia illegally pulled information, or "scraped" content from the Ryanair website.

"Expedia has used and/or procured, and continues to use and/or procure, information from an automated system or software that enables it to enter into and use the Ryanair Website, its content, and/or underlying databases for the purposes of searching and booking Ryanair flights that are ultimately sold by Expedia to customers using the Expedia website," Ryanair wrote in the 14-page claim. "Expedia's refusal or failure to transfer the customers to the Ryanair Website for the purpose of booking a flight with Ryanair interferes with Ryanair's commercial interests and damages Ryanair."

Ryanair also cited its terms of use (TOU) in the claim, noting language that states: "Use of any automated system or software, whether operated by a third party or otherwise, to extract any data from this website for commercial purposes ("screen scraping") is prohibited."

Ryanair, which estimated in the claim that more than 99% of its bookings are conducted directly through its website, wrote that it sent Expedia a cease-and-desist letter on Sept. 28, and that Expedia had neither responded to it nor ceased its alleged violations.

The carrier also noted in the claim that in September 2011, Expedia filed a lawsuit in the same district alleging that others were using "scraping" software to pull content off of Expedia's websites.

Expedia spokesman Dave McNamee said that the company doesn't comment on pending litigation. Ryanair representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

A search on Expedia's website last Thursday afternoon for a number of Ryanair routes did not produce any Ryanair listings.

Ryanair wrote in the claim that it was pursuing damages "sufficient to compensate Plaintiff for the damages sustained as a result of Expedia's actions as alleged herein" as well as "interest on all monetary awards as allowed by law" and "other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper." The carrier didn't specify a damage amount in the claim.

Ryanair said last Friday that it would end its GDS partnership with Amadeus, effective this Friday, "after both parties were unable to reach a renewed commercial agreement." The carrier said it would "continue to service travel agents through its GDS partnerships with Travelport and Sabre whose commercial agreements remain unchanged."

Ryanair had not worked with GDS operators for about a decade before reaching agreements in 2014 to be sold through Amadeus and Travelport, and in 2015 through Sabre.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI