In its decision of 26 February 2013, the Netherlands Consumer Authority (Consumentenautoriteit, "CA") imposed a fine of EUR 370,000 on Irish airline Ryanair for four violations of consumer protection provisions.
On its Dutch website, Ryanair offers airline tickets which can be purchased by consumers through an online booking system. Article 23 of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community requires airlines to include all foreseeable and unavoidable costs in airfares at the time of publication on their websites. According to the CA, Ryanair failed to meet this requirement as its advertised prices did not include all foreseeable and unavoidable fees and surcharges, such as airport charges and credit card costs.
Furthermore, the CA established a violation of Article 6:193g sub h of the Dutch Civil Code (the implementation of Directive 2005/29/EC concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market), as it considered that Ryanair was misleading its consumers by providing after-sales customer services in English only, without mentioning this on its Dutch website.
The other violations established by the CA consisted of Ryanair's failure to offer consumers the option to review the information they entered into the online booking system in order to correct possible mistakes, and Ryanair's failure to publish an email address on its website, making it difficult for consumers to communicate with Ryanair directly.
With regard to the continuing violations by Ryanair, the CA has imposed three orders subject to periodic penalty payments which could run to a maximum of EUR 240,000 per violation. Ryanair has filed an objection against the decision of the CA. This objection will be dealt with by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets ("ACM"), the new Dutch market regulator that constitutes the merger of the CA, the Netherlands Competition Authority ("NMa") and the Netherlands Independent Post and Telecommunication Authority ("OPTA").