Ryanair chief dismisses package travel as ‘a distraction’

Ryanair has no interest in moving into the package holiday market despite noting the increasing profitability of rival easyJet Holidays.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair group chief executive, dismissed the package holiday market as “a distraction” as he reported full-year profits for the 12 months to March of €1.92 billion on Monday.

However, O’Leary hailed Ryanair’s series of recent deals with online travel agents (OTAs) including Love Holidays and On the Beach as well as Tui Group, noting: “We’ve signed up or are in the process of agreements with 10 of the 11 largest OTAs.”

He said: “Are we leaving some money on the table for the OTAs? We probably are, but we’re happy to do so. We want to be Europe’s largest airline and don’t want the distraction of package holidays.”

O’Leary insisted: “I’m not a believer in the package holiday business. I know easyJet is making money from easyJet Holidays, but I think it’s just transferring revenue. It’s a distraction. I’m happy to compare Ryanair’s profitability with easyJet’s any time.

“If package travel is where the future lay, Tui and Tomas Cook would be among the biggest travel companies in Europe, and they’re not.”

O’Leary argued: “We fought the OTAs for 10 years and still find it amazing consumer regulators allowed these guys to screen scrape Ryanair’s website and then overcharge consumers.”

However, he hit out at OTA eDreams which has so far not agreed a deal with Ryanair despite O’Leary confirming talks in February.

He described eDreams as “a massive scam”, accusing it of screen scraping Ryanair’s site and inflating fare prices, adding: “I don’t believe eDreams’ model is sustainable. We think some EU consumer agency is going to move on eDreams. We’re being much more aggressive and all eDreams’ competitors are accessing Ryanair fares.”

O’Leary said: “We’re seeing strong bookings from those OTAs which have their pipes open [with Ryanair], although some have not got their pipes fully open yet.”

Asked he if would consider a deal with eDreams, O’Leary said: “They have taken a decision to keep scamming people. I would not want to do a deal with eDreams, but we would have to treat everyone equally. We think a consumer authority will move on eDreams sooner rather than later.”

Eddie Wilson, head of Ryanair DAC – the group’s major carriers – added: “When we meet the OTAs we can see they are buoyed up by having access to the widest range of destinations and lowest seat costs. For the limited market that it is, let them have it. They are good at it.”

Ryanair briefly launched a Ryanair Holidays programme in 2016, but it folded quickly when the carrier accused its partner in the project of screen scraping its site.

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