The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) expressed “frustration” at the pace Ryanair has moved to comply with price regulations yesterday, at the same time confirming it is studying the pricing of travel companies other than airlines.
CAA director of consumers and markets Chris Hemsley said: “The CAA is seeking routine compliance [on price transparency]. We are not in that position. We could not describe the industry as routinely complying with its legal obligations.”
Hemsley told an Abta travel law seminar in London: “We have been doing work with a number of airlines to ensure non-optional fees and charges are disclosed [in headline prices]. We are now starting to engage with travel agents and the package travel sector to ensure similar compliance.”
The CAA announced at the end of February that most airlines had acted “to ensure their websites display airfares in a clear way, including all compulsory taxes, fees and charges upfront”.
Two airlines had still to comply. Ryanair will be the last, having agreed a deadline of next Wednesday (June 1).
Hemsley said: “It is a source of frustration. . . We are aware a small number of parties distort competition by not complying with the regime. We would prefer the whole industry move at the same time. We have an undertaking from Ryanair to change its website. . . We want a level playing field.”
He confirmed the CAA is working with the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) on the issue of debit and credit-card charges by carriers. Consumer magazine Which? filed a ‘super complaint’ to the OFT at the end of March over “excessive” credit and debit card charges by companies, not just in travel.
Hemsley told Travel Weekly: “The CAA’s view is that an unavoidable charge should be in the price. The problem is some companies offer free payment for use of a card that limited numbers of people use. Our view is companies should not get a price advantage if the vast majority of customers cannot avoid the charge without changing their payment method.”
Referring to the £2 Ryanair recently added to fares to pay for the cost of compensating passengers under denied boarding regulations, Hemsley said: “A lot of this is marketing – to score cheap points or get free publicity. In principle we do not mind how the components of a fare are made up.
"The important thing is that it is included in the headline price. If an airline wants to present [an increase] as all about EC regulation that is OK.”
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