Ryanair, Hungary’s no. 1 airline, confirmed this morning (24 Aug) that it has appealed the baseless fine first announced by the Hungarian Justice Minister, yet allegedly imposed by the Hungarian Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) on 8 August last.
Last June, the Hungarian government imposed an “excess profits” tax on the airline industry despite the fact that the airlines in Hungary are still reporting record losses, not “excess profits”. The Hungarian government also attempted to unlawfully limit the right of airlines to pass on this unjustified retrospective tax to passengers. The Hungarian government claims that airlines must absorb retrospective taxes and incur “excess losses”, and that Ryanair’s decision to pass this retrospective tax on to passengers was unlawful. These claims are without foundation.
EU law – which still binds Hungary – allows EU airlines the freedom to set airfares and pass on taxes to consumers without any interference from national governments.
Ryanair has now appealed the unjustified fine imposed by the Hungarian government and is confident that EU Courts will validate its decision to pass on this retrospective tax to passengers.
The fact that this baseless fine was announced by the Hungarian Justice Minister on her Facebook page, even before Ryanair received any notification from the Hungarian CPA, shows that this was a politically motivated fine from an Agency which clearly lacks any independence or autonomy from the Hungarian government.
Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary said:
“The only thing more idiotic than the Hungarian government’s decision to impose an “excess profits” tax on the loss-making airline industry is the Hungarian Consumer Protection Agency’s decision to impose this completely baseless fine, and then notify its Justice Minister before notifying Ryanair. We have now appealed this baseless fine which we will ultimately overturn before EU Courts as EU law guarantees airlines’ freedom to set prices and pass on retrospective taxes to consumers.
The Hungarian government and its Consumer Agency is bound by these EU laws. Applying an “excess profits” tax to the loss-making airline sector in Hungary is inexplicable, and only succeeds in making flying to/from Hungary more expensive and less competitive compared to other Central European airports who
have lower costs and no idiotic “excess profits” taxes. This stupid tax has already caused Hungary to lose routes and flights this Autumn to lower cost neighbouring EU countries.”
Source: Ryanair press release