Ignition keys at dawn! Ryanair and Hertz have had an almighty falling out - with the car hire giant terminating its web retailing partnership with immediate effect.
The European low cost carrier says it received notice today from Hertz that the pair's car hire supply agreement with be axed.
Ryanair says Hertz is alleging the airline's partnerships with global distribution companies are in breach of contract.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary says:
"We regret Hertz’s decision to end our car hire agreement at such short notice today, at a time that will cause maximum inconvenience to our customers during the peak travel period.
"We have had a long and successful partnership with Hertz, and it’s a pity that this has ended in such an unfortunate and untimely manner."
Hertz, for its part, says it is "confident" of its legal position in what it calls a "significant contractual dispute" and that it will pursue the matter "vigorously" through the courts.
Group president of Hertz International, Michel Taride, adds
"Hertz deeply values all of its partnerships, some which have been going for more than 20 years.
"We strongly believe in mutually beneficial partnerships and would never take lightly the decision to end a key relationship."
The Ryanair website's car hire channel is already hosting a holding page and informing passengers that they can no longer secure car hire.
In a statement, Ryanair it disputes the decision by Hertz to terminate the agreement, with the car hire company having "knowledge and support" of the airline's GDSs contracts.
O'Leary says the airline will instruct its legal representatives to issue proceedings against Hertz for breach of contract.
It will be a period of three months before car hire provision is made available again on the Ryanair website, the carrier forecasts.
"Ryanair would expect to have a replacement supplier linked to the Ryanair.com website by October 2015", it says, coinciding with what is expected to be the relaunch of the website.
The airline's return to the world of third party distribution using GDSs began in March 2014, when it signed an agreement with Travelport.
Fellow GDSs, Amadeus and Sabre, came on-board in September 2014 and May 2015 respectively.
This is not the first time Ryanair has fallen out with one of its web retailing partners - in 2008, it and Expedia (which ran the airline's accommodation white label) began a long, legal battle over alleged breach of contract.
The pair eventually settled out of court for Euro 4 million in favour of Ryanair.
NB: Hertz airport image via Shutterstock.