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Inspection of Ryanair HQ linked to EU competition probe

Ireland’s competition authority has carried out an “unannounced inspection” of Ryanair’s offices in Dublin as part of an “ongoing investigation” by Italian counterparts into “potential breaches of EU competition law”.

The inspection took place at 12.30am and comes after Ryanair said a court in Milan dismissed claims against it which had been made by Italian online travel agents.

In a statement to RTÉ News, Ireland’s competition authority the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) confirmed the inspection took place.

A CCPC spokesperson said it was “supported” by Italian officials and gardaí, and that the inspection relates to “ongoing” Italian investigations into “potential breaches of EU competition law”.

The spokesperson said: “The CCPC has carried out an unannounced inspection at the premises of a business active in the passenger aviation sector on behalf of the Italian Competition Authority, the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM).

“This unannounced inspection forms part of an ongoing investigation by the AGCM into potential breaches of EU competition law. Authorised Officers from the CCPC were supported by colleagues from the AGCM and from an Garda Síochána.

“The CCPC is the statutory body responsible for the enforcement of competition law in Ireland.

“EU competition law allows a competition authority of one member state to request the competition authority of another member state to carry out an inspection or other fact-finding measure in that state on its behalf to establish whether there has been an infringement of EU competition law.”

“In Ireland, the CCPC has the power, under legislation, to carry out unannounced inspections on foot of a warrant issued by the District Court for this purpose,” the CCPC statement said.

In a separate statement responding to the development, a Ryanair spokesperson confirmed it has been the subject of an inspection.

However, the Ryanair spokesperson said any claims against it by Italian online travel agents are unfounded.

“Ryanair today received a visit from a team from the Italian AGCM together with the Irish CCPC as part of an investigation in Italy into claims made by Italian online travel agents and travel agencies about Ryanair’s long-running campaign to protect consumers from digital piracy and online travel agent over-charging.

“Ryanair and its team are happy to fully co-operate with this investigation into its long running and increasingly successful campaign to prevent digital piracy and consumer overcharging by Italian online travel agents.

“In recent weeks a number of these online travel agents have signed “approved” online travel agent distribution agreements with Ryanair under which they agreed to stop screen scraping the website and to stop over-charging consumers with inflated air fares, inflated ancillary fees and invented fees for non-existent services.

“The Milan Court of Appeal in February 2024 dismissed false claims by Italian online travel agents that Ryanair was in breach of Italian competition law.”

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