Italy: Fines to airlines

The European Consumer Centre Bolzano (ECC) informs about a current decision of the Italian Competition Authority:

 

As already stated in previous decisions, in the opinion of the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM - Autorità Garante della Concorrenza ed il Mercato) from a legal point of view the no-show-rule practice is allowed, if combined with an appropriate information given to consumers; this allows a balance between the business interests of the air carriers and the interest of the consumers to fully make use of their ticket. In this respect, in the past the commercial practices adopted by Alitalia, Air France, Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines were put under examination of the Italian Authority. This time the Authority was called upon to check the commercial practices of British Airways, Etihad Airways, Iberia, KLM and Emirates.

 

The proceedings ended with a penalty of a million euros imposed on British Airways and Etihad Airways. The Authority found their commercial practices unfair as clients, when buying multiple-segment or round-trip tickets, were neither informed about the existence of the no-show rule, nor of its conditions and limits. Besides this, the airlines did not provide an appropriate procedure without additional costs set to enable the passengers to enjoy their return ticket – or connecting flight – in case the outbound flight (or the previous segment) was not used.

 

The Italian Authority accepted the commitments submitted by Emirates, Iberia and KLM to adequately inform consumers about the existence of this rule and its implementation methods and to set a procedure to enable them to board on subsequent flights free of charge, if they had promptly notified the company of their intentions. In detail these airlines agreed to accept the return ticket (and for multiple-segment trips, tickets of the following routes) sold in Italy if passengers notice within 24 hours of departure (2 hours in case of round trip within the same day) of their intention to use the return ticket (and any subsequent coupons). With reference to pre-contractual information, these three airlines committed to inform about the existence of the no-show rule and this specific application rule for tickets purchased in Italy both the individual consumer during the booking process and on the website via the FAQ and a specific change of the General Terms and Conditions of Transport available there.

 

In contrast, British Airways and Etihad Airways did not agree on modifying their communication practices and the no-show-rule application as contested in the proceeding. Both will have to communicate, anyway, the measures adopted to comply with the Authority injunction.

 

The orders of the Italian Competition Authority (proceedings n. PS10047 PS10381 PS10181 PS10624 PS10642) can be found in Italian on its website.