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Spain fines Ryanair, Vueling over hand luggage fees


Spain has fined four budget airlines including Ryanair and Easyjet over €150 million for charging passengers for hand luggage and other practices deemed abusive, consumer groups said.

The carriers were also fined by the consumer rights ministry for forcing passengers to pay to choose seats so they can sit beside their children or other dependents and not accepting cash when selling tickets at airports, consumer rights association Facua said.

Spanish airlines Volotea and Vueling, part of the International Airlines Group which also owns British Airways and Iberia among others, were the other two budget carriers that were slapped with fines, said Facua, which has campaigned against the fees.

“It has been almost six years of battling to get the authorities to act against practices whereby airlines have been illegally inflating their profits and we have finally succeeded,” Facua secretary general Ruben Sanchez said in a statement.

The fines total over €150m, with some airlines ordered to pay more than others.

Ryanair, which was the first to start charging extra for hand luggage in November 2018, was hit with the biggest fine, Facua said without specifying the amount.

Vueling received the second largest fine, followed at a greater distance by Easyjet and Volotea, it added.

The airlines will appeal the fines, which “seem to us absolutely disproportionate”, the head of Spanish airlines industry group ALA, Javier Gandara, told a news conference.

If the extra fees are abolished, passengers who travel without hand luggage will have to pay for services they do not need, he added.

Facua rejected this argument.

“The industry is trying to convey the idea that they are making the price cheaper for those who do not carry luggage, and this is false, they are illegally making the price more expensive, they are illegally enriching themselves with many millions of euros with those who do carry small hand luggage,” Mr Sanchez said

Ryanair last week said its net profit jumped a third to €1.92 billions in its financial year as higher demand and fares offset ballooning fuel costs.


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