EasyJet, Ryanair’s largest low-fare rival in the European skies, has taken a decidedly different tack on screen-scraping and indeed on reservations as whole than its hard-line competitor. Within weeks of Ryanair’s move to cancel the bookings of travellers who bought through unauthorised sites or screen-scrapers, EasyJet cut its fee for making a booking though a Global Distribution System (GDS) from a sliding scale that went up to 5 pounds sterling (that’s 7.50 Euros, or about $312 in US money) to lower fixed rate of 3.30 sterling. The move is intended as a sharp contrast to the actions taken by Ryanair, says EasyJet distribution manager Jerry Dunn. The cut applies to bookings made through GDSs and other “approved third-party distribution channels” that are connected to EasyJet’s API (Application Programming Interface).
Dunn said that EasyJet is providing “an alternative legitimate booking channel” for business travel agencies, and that most screen-scrapers are voluntarily moving to the API, “while any that refuse to so so will face legal and technical
actions.” He did not specify what sort of technical actions the carrier had in mind. EasyJet talked to the Institute of Travel anagement before making its move, and Caroline Strachan, chairman of the group, said that EasyJet is to be applauded – even though “we would have liked to see have seen the point-of-sale fees removed entirely.”
EasyJet lists its fares only through Amadeus and Travelport’s Galileo GDS, while the Sabre system does not distribute it or support its API. EasyJet said it expects agencies to support it, but the British trade press quoted a major group, the Guild of Travel Management Companies, as saying they would not support the move. EasyJet first went into the GDSs in November of last year, when it announced its point-of-sale fees. At the time, the Guild accused it of “push-button profiteering”, and urged a boycott.