Ryanair Stops Quoting Prices Without Tax, Fees

DUBLIN, Ireland -- Ryanair, Europe's fastest-growing airline that pioneered the practice of offering "free flights plus tax," announced Wednesday it has begun selling all of its tickets with required taxes and fees included in the advertised price.

The change followed European Union regulators' complaints about deceptive trading practices. They singled out Ryanair, although many of the airlines' competitors, including its domestic rival Aer Lingus, had followed suit with similar policies.

The new Ryanair policy means that the Web site's front-page price quotes now include required government charges. But they do not include possible additional charges, such as Ryanair's fees for using credit or debit cards, checking luggage or advance check-in.

Chief Executive Michael O'Leary revealed the decision as he announced what he called a "price war" with other airlines. He noted Ryanair was hoping to reverse its recent decline in the percentage of sold seats per flight, known in the industry as "load factor."

Ryanair shares slid last week after the company said its average passenger load had fallen by 2 points to 82 percent in the first quarter of 2007. This meant an average of 18 out of every 100 available tickets went unsold.

To woo business, O'Leary said Ryanair would offer customers who could find a cheaper identical flight on another airline a refund equal to double the difference. The offer runs through June 12.

"Ryanair already delivers Europe's best punctuality, the fewest lost bags and a no-fuel-surcharge guarantee. Now, we guarantee that Ryanair won't be beaten on fares either," O'Leary said.

O'Leary's price blitz also involves 10 million seats starting at 10 pounds ($20) for its British-based customers and prices starting at 10 euros ($13.50) elsewhere in Europe. The offer, for flights throughout the summer, runs for as long as supplies last.

Ryanair spokeswoman Lorna Farren said the lowest price available on some of those routes could be higher, perhaps double the headline figure.

Ryanair's offers on its British Web site Wednesday indicated the promotion's best deal ranged from 10 pounds up to 19.79 pounds ($39.45) - still cheaper than what flights billed as free used to cost.

Ryanair shares closed unchanged at 5.42 euros ($7.33) amid broadly negative trading on the Irish Stock Exchange.


On the Net: http://www.ryanair.com

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