Online travel agents have won a High Court fight with Ryanair after suing over refunds paid after flights were cancelled or changed.
A judge has awarded three companies in the On the Beach group £2 million damages after considering evidence at a High Court hearing in London.
Judge Nigel Cooper outlined his conclusions in a ruling published on Tuesday.
The judge said On the Beach, Sunshine.co.uk and Classic Package Holidays had claimed £2 million in total.
He said that figure represented the cost of flights refunded to travellers for package holidays in “circumstances where Ryanair have cancelled or made what are described as major changes to flights which were part of the packages”.
Lawyers representing the airline disputed that the On the Beach group had “any good cause of action” against Ryanair.
The judge made findings in favour of the On the Beach group and said its claim succeeded “in the amount” of £2,056,745.
“On the Beach group’s claim in this action is for a sum of some £2 million which they say represents the cost of flights which they have refunded to travellers for package holidays in circumstances where Ryanair have cancelled or made what are described as major changes to flights which were part of the packages,” said the judge in his ruling.
“Although Ryanair dispute that On the Beach group have any legal entitlement to the refunds claimed, Ryanair have acknowledged …that for commercial and political reasons Ryanair are willing to refund the cost of flights which have been cancelled provided that appropriate arrangements are put in place so that they are not at risk of being required to refund travellers twice for the same flight.”
The judge indicated that the litigation was “part of a much wider” dispute “as to the extent to which online travel agents may book flights operated by Ryanair”.
Shaun Morton, chief executive of On the Beach, said: “We welcome the High Court’s decision to uphold our application for Ryanair to pay back what was owed.
“Today’s outcome sends an important message on how refunds should be handled and emphasises the industry’s responsibility to holidaymakers.
“On the Beach is committed to doing the right thing for its customers.”