eDreams: 'we've done nothing wrong' in Ryanair AdWords row

Online travel agency eDreams has hit back at Ryanair in a row over advertising on Google, reports Tnooz.

eDreams has defended itself against accusations by the low-cost airline that it was bidding high on Google advertising in order to rank above Ryanair and "misleading Ryanair customers into visiting the eDreams website and...booking with eDreams," said the airline.

Ryanair's particular grievance is the use of eDreams to direct customers to a branded page on the OTA's website.

According to Ryanair, it has received "extensive complaints" from customers who have been misled into buying tickets on the website.

In a statement, Ryanair claimed sites such as eDreams were refusing to pass on vital information to both customers and itself regarding issues such as flight changes, web check-in, special needs assistance and contact details.

It has called on Google to "enforce greater transparency" in its advertising methods.

Chief marketing officer for Ryanair, Kenny Jacobs, went so far as to say that the online travel agency is "unlawfully selling Ryanair flights, by masquerading as Ryanair.com".

He claimed that the website then offers customers a "substandard service, with additional fees" or sells "fares that don't even exist".

However, last week eDreams rejected the criticism with a statement of its own. It said: "eDreams notes Ryanair's latest attack on the fast-growing online travel agency sector. As an OTA, eDreams is perfectly entitled to sell Ryanair tickets, and the tickets of other airlines, providing customers with much-needed choice and variety to the flight distribution market.

"Our sites deliver consumers with the ability to find the best prices and our services are supported by our proven, high customer satisfaction."

The statement went on to say: "It is also perfectly lawful for an OTA to use the AdWords service of Google in order to advertise flight booking services provided to its customers. Ryanair has been trying, without success, to prevent OTAs selling its tickets for the last ten years, and they are now invoking new, ill-founded grievances."

Ryanair has explained that it does not have any complaint with the principle of pay-per-click bidding. But, said Jacobs, "it is unfair that it is used as a mechanism to mislead customers."

This is not the first skirmish between the two organisations. In January 2015, Ryanair won a legal ruling in the Regional Court of Hamburg, Germany, to halt eDreams' use of the ryanair.eDreams.de subdomain, and its use in Google advertising. As a result, eDreams was ordered to pay compensation for trademark infringement.