On 12 November, the Italian Supreme Court brought to an end a multi-jurisdictional dispute which began in 2008, related to the Ryanair’s refusal to grant online travel agencies ("OTAs") the right to intermediate its tickets by accessing its databases and procedures for flight reservations.
On 4 June 2013, the Court of Milan (Court of Milan, Special Section for Enterprises, Judgment No. 7825) stated that Ryanair had abused its dominant position in the downstream market for online travel agencies in breach of article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and ordered Ryanair to pay damages to the OTAs.
The ruling by the Court of Milan was, in part, overturned by the Court of Appeal of Milan (Court of Appeal of Milan, Special Section for Enterprises, 12 October 2015, Judgment No. 3900). The Court rejected the assessment according to which Ryanair held a dominant position in the air transport market, arguing that with its limited market share, selling seats on its flights and denying OTAs access to procedures for flight reservations cannot be deemed to be an abuse of a dominant position.
The Supreme Court, in confirming the judgment of the Court of Milan, reaffirmed the criteria needed to correctly determine the "relevant market" in order to assess Ryanair's abuse of its dominant position. In particular, the Supreme Court specified that for the passenger transport sector 'any connection between city pairs or airports, in application of the city-pair method, or the origin-destination pairs method, constitutes a distinct relevant market. Thus, the Court of Appeal, taking into account the entire European market, erred in its assessment of whether Ryanair was in a dominant position.
The Court of Appeal of Milano is now called to judge again if Ryanair’s practices led to an abuse of its dominant position resulting in discriminatory behavior.
For more information please find the Court’s decision in Italian here.