By Sarah Morris

MADRID
SPAIN has demanded information from Irish airline Ryanair after online travel agencies warned the firm was threatening to leave thousands of passengers who booked online on the ground.

The public works ministry is now waiting for an answer from Ryanair about its plans to cancel tickets booked through Spain's leading online bookers, eDreams, Rumbo and Atrapolo, before deciding whether to take further action, a spokeswoman said. “After the media reports at the weekend, on Monday we acted,” said a ministry spokeswoman.
However, she said the ministry would not necessarily take action against Ryanair as a result. “The ministry only acts if we find a breach to the law on passenger rights.” Ryanair has said it is cancelling all flights booked through online travel agencies which Ryanair calls screenscrapers because it considers the sites are acting illegally. “We believe this is a quicker and more effective way of discouraging this unlawful activity and we hope that by getting rid of screenscrapers we will speed up passenger processing times on Ryanair.com, as well as ensuring that Ryanair passengers are not paying unnecessary handling charges or higher fares to screenscrapers,” said Ryanair in a statement.

The Irish no-frills airline is already taking legal action against online bookers in Spain to stop them selling tickets, as well as against Irish booker BravoFly and German booker Vtours.

However, Spanish agencies reacted angrily to Ryanair's latest move. “Edreams is exploring all possible legal action against the Irish airline for its irresponsibility, negligence and the consequent damage caused to customers for the unilateral cancellation of thousands of paid and confirmed bookings,“ said eDreams in a statement. “Ryanair doesn't want travel agents to offer comparative prices and thereby to show that in many cases Ryanair is the most expensive option.”

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