Kiwi vs. Ryanair: Czech ticket platform wins dispute over handling of passenger data

Brno-based Kiwi.com's legal victory forms part of a wider and long-running dispute with the low-cost Irish airline.

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 27.08.2021 22:00 (updated on 28.08.2021)

The Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of Czech ticket seller Kiwi.com against Ryanair in a dispute over Kiwi.com’s practices for handling passenger data. Success in the legal case is a boost for the Czech company amid tensions with Ryanair which have seen the carrier threatening to reject boarding passes issued by Kiwi.com.

Ryanair took Kiwi.com to court over its handling of passengers’ personal data, which Ryanair claimed prevented it from contacting passengers and meeting its financial obligations. The Irish carrier wanted Kiwi.com to be compelled to share more information about passengers booking through the ticket portal.

But the Constitutional Court has now overturned an earlier ruling by the Regional Court in Brno which had instructed Kiwi.com to adjust information according to Ryanair’s terms and conditions, and to share customers’ email and residence addresses as well as their payment details. The Constitutional Court ruled that the earlier judgement ran contrary to freedom to conduct business and the right to judicial protection.

“The decision of the general court was based on a misinterpretation of the assessed communications, which were not evaluated in context,” said Constitutional Court judge Kateřina Šimáčková.

Ryanair’s case against Kiwi.com had been approved by the Brno court and then upheld on appeal at the High Court in Olomouc. But the Constitutional Court’s ruling has overturned these earlier judgements. It said the other courts had failed to make it clear why customer data should be passed from Kiwi.com to Ryanair.

Relations between Kiwi.com and Ryanair have become increasingly strained over recent weeks. Although the Czech company has agreements for selling flight tickets with a huge variety of airlines operating all over the world, Ryanair earlier this August declared that it would stop accepting boarding passes sold through the portal. Despite this threat, lawyers representing Kiwi.com said that so far, the company has not seen any cases of its passengers being denied boarding to Ryanair flights.

“We only want to compete on behalf of our customers, but Ryanair is resorting to tactics which from our point of view represent a competitive stance,” said David Liškutin, a lawyer for Kiwi.com.

Kiwi.com’s relationship with Ryanair has been strained for years: the Irish carrier first filed a lawsuit against Kiwi.com back in 2019. Kiwi.com representatives claim Ryanair remains suspicious of the innovative booking options offered by the Czech company.

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Kiwi.com won Forbes magazine’s “Best Czech Startup” prize two years in a row in 2017 and 2018, and employs around 2,000 people at its headquarters in Brno and its other offices in Prague, Barcelona and Bratislava. The Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling now appears to have affirmed the company’s business model in opposition to concerns from more traditional carriers.

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