10 Jul, 2024 @ 15:40
1 min read

End of cheap flights? Ryanair accuses Spain of ‘breaking the low cost model’ after being fined for ‘abusive’ hand luggage charges

Chipperjo Passengers Boarding A Ryanair Plane With The Clear Co E6b16303 6c83 48fe Ab53 9006726b7fa9

BUDGET airline Ryanair has accused the Spanish government of trying to ‘break the low cost model of transport.’

Eddie Wilson, CEO of the Irish airline, was speaking after the Spanish Ministry of Consumer Affairs fined his company for charging passengers extra for hand luggage and seating in May.

Along with EasyJet, Vueling, and Volotea, the four low-cost airlines were hit with a combined €150 million fine – the largest-ever penalty for practices against customers to be imposed by the Ministry.

“It seems that Spain’s Ministry of Tourism sees the importance of connectivity, but the Ministry of Consumer Affairs wants to break the low-cost model,” Wilson said.

READ MORE: Spain fines Ryanair, EasyJet and two other airlines a ‘historic’ €150million for ‘abusive’ hand luggage charges 

Spain fines Ryanair, EasyJet and two other airlines a ‘historic’ €150million for ‘abusive’ hand luggage charges
Ryanair may raise prices after being fined by the Spanish government

Wilson defended Ryanair’s hand luggage policy, arguing that they charge extra for bags in the overhead compartments ‘for safety reasons, as there are 189 seats on a plane and not all bags fit.’ 

He added: “We invite the Minister of Consumer Affairs (Pablo Bustinduy) to come and see for himself.”

By hitting Ryanair with such a hefty fine and forcing them to drop the extra charges, Wilson implied that the airline might have little option but to raise prices.

The Association of Airlines (ALA), whose members account for 85% of air traffic in Spain, agreed with Wilson.

They called the ‘fines disproportionate and will harm consumers by eliminating the option for passengers to pay for exactly what they need’.

READ MORE: WATCH: Moment Ryanair passenger heading to Malaga snaps off the wheels of his suitcase so it fits in the hand luggage tester

An ALA statement said: “This ruling means that almost 50 million passengers who do not take cabin luggage on board and only travel with hand luggage under the seat, will not benefit from paying only for essential services, as they will be forced to pay more for something they do not want.”

The government ministry started the probe in June 2023 to investigate whether airline practices were abusive or unfair and whether they contravened regulations.

A ministry spokesperson confirmed that the investigation came as a result of complaints from consumer organisations.

Four practices came under the spotlight: charging a surcharge for reserving adjoining seats to accompany children and dependents; a lack of transparency in pre-contractual information on the final price to be paid: charging a surcharge for carry-on luggage; and not allowing cash payments at the airport to cover extra services.

The most-sanctioned practice concerned hand luggage with the Ministry describing charges as ‘abusive’.

It said that based on current law, airlines have the right to determine the measurements and weights of carry-on baggage that can be carried on board, but they cannot charge extra for it.

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? walter@theolivepress.es
@waltfinc

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