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Spain fines 4 low-cost airlines 150 million euro for abusive hand luggage practices



The Spanish Ministry of Consumer Affairs imposed a fine of 150 million euro on four airlines – Ryanair, Vueling, EasyJet and Volotea – for abusive practices, including charging passengers for hand luggage, following complaints received by different consumer associations. The fine will be borne by the affected airlines.

The Association of Airlines (ALA), which brings together 85% of air traffic in Spain, has frontally rejected the claim of the Ministry of Social Rights, Consumption and Agenda 2030 to prohibit the charging of cabin luggage made by some airlines and to fine this practice disproportionate amounts, as it will harm consumers by suppressing the option of passengers to hire exactly what they need.

In this way, the nearly 50 million passengers who today do not carry a suitcase on board and only travel with hand luggage under the seat, could not benefit from paying only for essential services, forcing them to contract services that they do not use.

ALA has indicated that this process by which the Ministry opened disciplinary proceedings against several companies is still open and an appeal is possible.

“Sanctioning this practice limits the option of paying only for essential services and all passengers would be forced to hire the cabin baggage transportation service, even when they do not need it. The consumer will be the main harmed by this interference by the Ministry of Social Rights, Consumption and Agenda 2030 in the European single market and tariff freedom protected by European law. We defend the consumer’s right to choose their best travel option and the freedom of airlines to, like any other sector in a free market economy, freely set the rates for their services,” stated the president of ALA, Javier Gándara, after learning of the decision of the Ministry to prohibit charging for luggage in the cabin and to fine different airlines for this practice.

Likewise, ALA has reaffirmed that this practice is completely legal, and has stressed that European legislation recognises the freedom of airlines to set their rates.

The president of ALA has warned that the Consumer Affairs decision to unilaterally prohibit charging for cabin luggage will cause Spain to lose its competitiveness with respect to the rest of the EU states as a tourist destination. “We run the risk that – Gándara adds – a part of those 50 million passengers will stop benefiting from paying only for essential services and opt for other destinations, with the consequent impact on the GDP, employment and air connectivity of our country”.

Given the decision of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs against several airlines, ALA wants to emphasise that:

Commercial practices such as charging for baggage in the cabin are perfectly legal, and are covered by European Regulation 1008/2008, which is mandatory in the Member States, since national legislation must be interpreted in accordance with European law.

This initiative clashes head-on with the recent initiative of the European Commission, which advocates that airlines establish common allowances or standards for hand luggage, an initiative in which all airlines are already collaborating and where it is clearly specified that the rates with different additional services developed in recent years, they have implied advantages and more offers for passengers.



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