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SPAIN’S Ministry of Consumer Affairs(Consumo) has opened disciplinary proceedings against several low-cost airlines for charging passengers for hand luggage that is transported in cabins.

The list of companies that face sanctions has not been made public but when Consumer Affairs minister Alberto Garzon launched an investigation earlier this year, he said the budget operators being probed had a market share of above 30%.

Penalties might involve substantial fines handed out to offending airlines.

Consumo has also extended its remit beyond hand luggage to look at extra costs that airlines apply to services that used to be bundled in a ticket price like seat reservations.

It is concerned that low fares are advertised but the reality does not match up with the final price paid by travellers once extras are added.

Consumo has also denounced the airlines for other irregularities, such as not allowing cash payment at the airport for additional services, contrary to the provision of the regulations.

The penalties for infringements vary between €10,001 and €100,000 in the case of serious ones, and between €100,001 and €1 million in the case of very serious ones.

A Consumo spokesperson said: “In the event that the illicit benefit obtained by the infringing practices exceeds these amounts, any sanctions could reach up to four to six times the illicit benefit obtained for serious infringements, and between six and eight times the illicit benefit obtained in the case of very serious ones.”

The ministry investigation comes after an initial complaint made by consumer association Facua in October 2021 over hand luggage charging by Spanish budget carrier Vueling.

The group has previously filed complaints against Ryanair, easyJet, and Volotea.


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