Ryanair has warned its business is likely to be hit in the short term after a string of online travel agents removed the airline from their online listings.
The Irish firm accused brands including Booking.com, Kiwi and Kayak of acting like “pirates” after they suddenly wiped its flights from their websites last month.
Ryanair said it was likely to reduce its load factor – the percentage of available seats filled – by up to 2% in January.
The airline also warned that revenue from tickets would be hit in the short term while it responds by “making more low fares available” on its own website to encourage travellers to book with it directly.
However, Ryanair said websites such as Booking.com only accounted for a “small fraction” of its business and said it was unlikely to “materially affect” its full-year passenger numbers or profit expectations.
Ryanair said it continues to make its fares available to “honest” and “transparent” online travel agents.
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The airline said it was unsure why its flights had been removed from the websites, but said it may be a result of an Irish High Court ruling last year.
Ryanair said the court had granted it a permanent injunction against ‘screenscraper’ Flightbox from “unlawfully scraping Ryanair.com content” for online travel agents.
Screen scraping is when a third party accesses an airline’s website and often goes on to offer the carrier’s fares on its own site.
It could also be related to a legal battle the company is waging in the US against Booking.com owner Booking Holdings and its subsidiaries over website listings.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “Ryanair will respond to this welcome removal of our flights from OTA [online travel agent] pirate websites, by lowering fares where necessary to encourage all passengers to book directly on Ryanair.com where they are guaranteed to always get the lowest air fares…
“In the meantime, Ryanair continues to make its fares available to honest/transparent OTA’s such as Google Flights”.
It came as the airline released new figures which showed it flew 12.5 million passengers in December, a rise of 9%, but said its load factor fell to 91% from 92% a year ago.
Ryanair was forced to cancel more than 900 flights last month due to the ongoing suspension of flights to Tel Aviv and neighbouring Jordan amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Booking.com and Kiwi have been approached for comment.