Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 11:30 UK

Euro MPs get tough on airline ads

By Chris Mason
BBC News, Strasbourg

Aeroplane takes off. File photo
The exact cost of a plane ticket could become a lot clearer for passengers

The European Parliament has agreed to ban airlines from advertising fares that do not include the taxes and charges passengers have to pay.

The assembly heard that the "common position" of EU ministers had been approved, which meant the issue was not formally voted on.

The new regulation is expected to come into force across the EU by the end of this year.

The 35-member Association of European Airlines (AEA) welcomed the changes.

'Fed-up consumers'

There are rules already in some European countries which have led to the phasing out of adverts that appeared to offer the chance to fly to from one end of the continent to the other for about the cost of a newspaper.

They [passengers] might see it's a 99p advertisement but they actually end up paying 99
Robert Evans, MEP

But Europe's lawmakers in Strasbourg are concerned many airlines are still misleading too many passengers, too often.

"I think at the moment people are paying more then they expected to in the first place," says Robert Evans, a British Labour MEP, who sits the parliament's transport committee.

"They see an advert, a headlined figure, but when they actually end up paying for it it's a lot more than that because there are extras that hadn't been made properly aware to them at the beginning.

"They might see it's a 99p advertisement but they actually end up paying 99," Mr Evans says.

The AEA, which groups many national flag carriers like Air France and Lufthansa, says it is comfortable with these proposals.

"I think it's in response to consumers getting a little bit fed up with the fact that what they pay doesn't always bear a great deal of resemblance to what they're offered," the AEA's David Henderson says.

"Airlines now in general I think are happy that clarity has been restored and that the consumer is being given the correct information from now on," he says.

Amongst Europe's low cost carriers, EasyJet says it also welcomes the changes.

Ryanair, the continent's largest no-frills operator, says it is transparent in its advertising.

However, the Irish airline has been trading insults in recent days with the Danish consumer ombudsman over exactly this issue - whether its passengers are being misled.

Ryanair has strongly dismissed the criticisms - saying they are entirely "false."

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