A Danish court ruled on June 27 that Ryanair, the Irish low-cost airline, had engaged in illegal advertising and ordered the carrier to pay a fine of 20,000 Danish kroner (2,700 euros).
The court determined that Ryanair had published 11 ads offering rock-bottom fares where two different prices were given: one in bold print and large letters excluding taxes and another in very small print that included taxes.
The court ruled that the price excluding taxes was of no interest to consumers and was only printed to draw their attention.
The Danish State Consumer Protection Agency had filed the charges against Ryanair in Aarhus, central Denmark, following complaints by several companies, including Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS).
The agency cited 101 cases of false advertising, but the court ruled on only 11 of them, arguing that the other 90 dated back more than two years and the statute of limitations had therefore expired.
When determining the fine, the court also took into consideration the fact only one consumer had filed a complaint against Ryanair.
Ryanair lawyer Kim Ulrich said he was satisfied with the ruling, saying "it shows that this is a matter between SAS and Maersk Air, on one side, and Ryanair on the other, and not consumer dissatisfaction."
The carrier's deputy director, Warrick Brady, was quoted by the Danish news agency Ritzau as saying that management would study the ruling before deciding whether to file an appeal.
"We were given a symbolic fine because our advertisements were not detailed enough, but this whole affair is an attempt by SAS and Maersk Air to limit the competition from low-cost airlines," he said.
Three Danish newspapers – Jyllands-Posten, Aarhus Stifstidende and Nordjyske Stifstidende – also faced charges for publishing the ads, but the court acquitted them on the grounds that newspaper editors' responsibilities could not be extended to advertisements.