Budget airline Flybe has launched a blistering attack on many of its rivals, which it has accused of deliberately ignoring orders from the Office of Fair Trading.
Airlines were told that they must no longer hide charges for customers who paid by card, but Flybe has claimed that a number of competitors are not taking the matter seriously.
With effect from July 2012, airline firms were told they must change their advertising so that any charges for paying via debit card were clear and included in the so-called headline price. However, Flybe says that a number of firms, including Ryanair, Easyjet and Aer Lingus, are guilty of not following the spirit of the rules and are trying to gain an unfair advantage with customers by appearing to be cheaper.
The issue was the subject of a huge campaign led by consumer champion, Which? that resulted in backing from more than 50,000 people. Consumers are forced to fork out an eye watering £300 million every year in card charges and government minsters had promised to address the problem.
Flybe has accused the OFT of failing to follow through on its previous ruling and of ‘sanctioning blatant disregard’.
The managing director of Flybe UK, Andrew Strong, said firms were being allowed to get away with ‘abuse’ of the process and described the current situation as a ‘total shambles’.
Flybe has said that it has made its concerns known to the OFT, in particular its belief that the current situation is in contravention of Fair Trading.
A spokesman for the OFT confirmed that it had allowed some airlines longer deadlines to implement the changes, but insisted that it was continuing to ‘monitor’ the situation and would ‘consider taking further action’ if airlines failed to toe the line.