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Ryanair Hits Back At Italian Civil Aviation Authority In Dispute Over Extra Seat Fees

By Dave Simpson

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 that the authority has made incorrect claims.

ENAC Claims And Urge To Cancel Seat Surcharges

Earlier this week, ENAC warned that it could fine Ryanair after preliminary checks showed that it has 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 15, 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 8.

Ryanair Response

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But the Irish carrier, for which Italy was the biggest market in terms of revenue in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, replied saying that ENAC's claims were "incorrect" and "misleading".

"Ryanair implemented temporary measures on August 13 to ensure adult passengers accompanying minors or special needs passengers have several options to avail [themselves] of free allocated seating," a spokesperson said in an e-mailed comment to Reuters.

The spokesperson added that this is a temporary solution "as it was impossible to fully amend the booking system in the unreasonable timeframe set by ENAC".

Additional ENAC Claim

ENAC had also said that 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.

ENAC President Statement

"[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 earlier this week.

Ready To Impose Penalty And Considering Filing Legal Complaint

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

"Misleading"

Ryanair's spokesperson added, "It is misleading for ENAC to categorise its interference with the airline's commercial freedom to set prices as a safety issue."

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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