German competition authorities rule out Ryanair probe over new hand luggage pricing

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-02 22:32:36|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BERLIN, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- The German Federal Cartel Office has no intention of following the example of Italian competition regulators with an investigation into new hand luggage pricing practices at the budget airline Ryanair, the Bonn-based government agency told press on Friday.

A spokesperson for the Federal Cartel Office said that it lacked the necessary legal competence to launch its own assessment of the case.

On Thursday, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) ordered a halt to new fines which are imposed by Irish Ryanair and Hungarian Wizz Air for outsized cabin bags because they obscured the true costs of the airlines' tickets. Ryanair said in response it would appeal the decision.

A recent report by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the aeronautics and space research center of the country's federal government, found that Ryanair's flights were the only ones among budget airlines which continued to fall in price during the summer months.

Despite its increased presence at major airports in Germany and Europe, Ryanair lowered its average ticket costs again compared to last year, continuing to engage in the intense price-competition which has become the calling card of its chief executive officer (CEO) Michael O'Leary. However, the DLR report also highlighted that the Irish company had simultaneously changed its hand luggage rules so that passengers can no longer carry up to 10 kg free of charge.

While the Federal Cartel Office said that it would itself remain inactive with regards to the policy change, the German Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) announced on Friday that it would conduct a legal assessment of what it considered to be "distorted price information" at Ryanair.

"The normal consumer does not just fly with a small handbag," Marion Jungbluth, vzbv Mobility Team Leader, told the German press agency (dpa). The price quoted by the airline was a "misleading package". If additional fees for hand luggage materialized at the end of the booking process, rendering online portals for the comparison of ticket prices practically useless.

"We think this new regulation is a consumer trap and we will take a very close look at how prices are displayed on the website," Jungbluth said. The consumer protection advocate said that she was in favor of globally-uniform and binding regulations on what kind of luggage can be taken into planes without additional cost, rather than the current system of International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines which are only adhered to by airlines on a voluntary basis.