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'Historic' multi-million euro fine slapped on low-cost airlines in Spain

Published 01-06-2024, 01:26 am
© Reuters.  \'Historic\' multi-million euro fine slapped on low-cost airlines in Spain
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Madrid, May 31 (IANS/DPA) The Spanish government has imposed fines totalling over 150 million euro ($163 million) on four low-cost airlines for charging an additional fee for hand luggage and other practices deemed unlawful.The companies affected are Ryanair, EasyJet, Vueling, and Volotea, the state television channel RTVE and other media reported on Friday, citing the Ministry for Social Rights and Consumer Protection in Madrid.

The Left-wing government confirmed the reports, but initially refused to provide details.

The Spanish consumer protection organization FACUA, whose complaint prompted the ministry to initiate sanction proceedings last year, have described the penalty as "historic."

"This is exactly what we are campaigning for - to put an end to fraud and illegal practices," FACUA Secretary General Rubén Sánchez told journalists in Seville.

"For the first time in our history, we can say that we are satisfied with the amount of a fine."

Spain's aviation industry body ALA - which says it represents more than 60 airlines operating in the EU - criticised the decision, which in practice amounts to a ban on the hand baggage fees charged by some airlines.

This will harm consumers, especially "the 50 million passengers who do not carry hand luggage in the cabin," it said in a statement.

The investigations into various controversial rules were launched after several low-cost airlines tightened their hand luggage regulations.

According to the ministry, this violated Spanish law because services that were traditionally included in the ticket price were now charged separately.

That allowed the airlines to position themselves better in search engine results due to the low prices offered without hand luggage included, the ministry said last year.

The probe also looked into surcharges for seat reservations, especially for people accompanying minors or people in need of assistance.

An appeal can be lodged against the ministry's decision.

--IANS/DPA

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