Ryanair hits back at Italian authority over seat surcharges

Airline fails to ensure no seat fees for those accompanying minors or disabled passengers – ENAC

Ryanair says  ENAC’s claims are ‘incorrect’ and ‘misleading’. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Ryanair says ENAC’s claims are ‘incorrect’ and ‘misleading’. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

 

Ryanair has hit back at Italy’s civil aviation authority, ENAC, in a dispute over extra fees for seats assigned to adults accompanying minors and disabled people, saying the authority had made incorrect claims.

ENAC had on Tuesday warned it could fine Ryanair after preliminary checks showed it had not yet adapted its IT and operating systems to ensure a supplement is not charged when booking seats next to underage passengers or people with disabilities.

ENAC previously urged airlines operating in Italy to cancel the seat surcharges by August 15th, after an Italian court rejected a request by Ryanair in early August to freeze a regulation on the matter until a court hearing on September 8th.

But the Irish carrier, for whom Italy was the biggest market in terms of revenue in the fiscal year that ended on March 31st, replied on Wednesday saying ENAC’s claims were “incorrect” and “misleading”.

“Ryanair implemented temporary measures on August 13th to ensure adult passengers accompanying minors or special needs passengers have several options to avail [themselves] of free allocated seating,” a spokeswoman said.

Temporary solution

She added this was a temporary solution “as it was impossible to fully amend the booking system in the unreasonable timeframe set by ENAC”.

ENAC had also said Ryanair only modified a contract detail allowing passengers not to pay or to obtain a refund of the surcharge at the end of a complex procedure.

“[Ryanair’s] behaviour is based solely on the carrier’s profit and does not protect passengers’ rights or comply with safety rules,” ENAC president Pierluigi Di Palma said on Tuesday.

ENAC added it was ready to impose a €35,000 penalty on Ryanair and was also considering filing a legal complaint against it.

Ryanair’s spokeswoman added: “It is misleading for ENAC to categorise its interference with the airline’s commercial freedom to set prices as a safety issue.”