The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) have refuted a statement and comments made by Ryanair claiming that the airline has not dealt with travel agents for the past twenty years. The ITAA are once again asking Ryanair for honesty and transparency with regards to refunds, to resolve ongoing issues for consumers and travel agents alike.
The ITAA has highlighted that while Ryanair are happy to take money for bookings, when flights are cancelled Ryanair have a duty of care to refund monies to the affected party who made the booking. The current backlog on Ryanair refunds both from travel agent bookings and customers who booked directly with the airline was clearly evidenced on yesterday’s Liveline and on social media.
Booking with a licensed travel agent offers consumers protection under the European Package Travel Directive (PTD) where as booking a flight direct, online with an airline does not. Consumers also book with travel agents for a number of other reasons; for example not everyone has internet access or access to a credit card.
Irish travel agents are very transparent with their clients, with all details and charges shown clearly on the confirmation invoice. The travel agents book accommodation with the accommodation provider, the flight with the airline, and when booking the flights online with Ryanair they pay with their credit card. Traditionally, it is the client’s email that is used in the booking so that they receive email updates on their flight, and the travel agent’s credit card is used for the booking and payment. The ITAA has noted that the Ryanair website is a public domain where anyone can make a direct booking and look up the price of the flight; travel agents do not conceal flight costs from customers.
The Association noted the ongoing communications and relationship between travel agents and Ryanair, stating that Ryanair have been dealing with travel agents for the past 20 years, taking bookings from travel agents on behalf of their customers and handling refunds where necessary. In addition to this, Ryanair have made their seats available for sale on booking platforms used exclusively by travel agents on behalf of their customers, such as Travelport and Amadeus
In March 2014, there was a joint press conference in London with Travelport and Ryanair announcing a new partnership whereby Ryanair made their seats available for sale using the travel agents’ booking technologies. An agreement with Amadeus IT Group followed a year later. The Association has pointed out this partnership in order to highlight the ongoing working relationship between Ryanair and Irish travel agents, which the airline continues to deny.
Pat Dawson, ITAA CEO, stated, “Ryanair are well aware that they have been dealing with travel agents for the past 20 years. No one is saying that we have a direct relationship or contract with Ryanair, however they have taken bookings by travel agents on behalf of our customers, taken our money and, in the past, processed refunds when necessary. In addition to this, they have also made their seats available for sale through travel agents technology platforms Travelport and Amadeus. We believe that the statement issued by Ryanair earlier today to be disingenuous and we are asking for honesty and transparency in order to resolve these issues with refunds.”
He continued, “Customer safety and satisfaction is the number one priority for ITAA member travel agents. Our members do not under any circumstances use fake customer details when making bookings, nor do they overcharge customers with any hidden fees or add-ons. We are disappointed by these insinuations, as we have the highest respect for our customers. We wish to work with Ryanair to sort out any ongoing issues with refunds for our member travel agents and our customers, but we do not accept this narrative.”