EU ruling compels Ryanair to be transparent about fares online

EU ruling compels Ryanair to be transparent about fares online

Court of Justice ruling comes after criticism from Italian competition watchdog

Ryanair has been ordered to indicate the full price of tickets when it displays offers on its website following a near decade-long legal battle.

The ruling from the top court in the EU came after the Italian competition and markets authority criticised the no-frills carrier in 2011 for prices that did not include VAT on domestic flights, fees for check-in and payments by credit card.

The Italian authority argued these were unavoidable and should be indicated before a customer began the booking process.

Ryanair took the issue to court, prompting Italy’s Council of State to ask the European Court of Justice whether the price elements needed to be included.

The judges in Luxembourg said on Thursday that Ryanair had to show in its initial offer unavoidable and foreseeable taxes, surcharges and fees.

Optional price supplements could be left until the start of the booking process, they said.

They found that fees for using a credit card were unavoidable and should be shown in the initial offer.

Check-in fees also needed to be shown unless there was at least one option to check in free of charge.

VAT applied to the air fare should also be included, although did not have to be included for optional supplements, the judges said.

The ECJ ruling said: “An air carrier, such as Ryanair, is obliged to indicate in its online offers, from the first time that the price is shown (i.e. in the initial offer), the air fare and, separately, the taxes, charges, surcharges and fees that are unavoidable and foreseeable.

“By contrast, it is required to indicate the optional price supplements in a clear, transparent and unambiguous way only at the start of the booking process.”

Ryanair said its price display policy was fully transparent and that it already complied with the EU court’s ruling.

“This matter goes back to 2010 and our price display has since been adjusted,” the airline told Reuters.