27 JANUARY 2014
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An adviser to Europe's top court has backed a key element of budget airlines' business model, saying extra charges levied by Spanish carrier Vueling for checking in baggage are in line with European Union rules.
Budget airlines generate a hefty chunk of their revenues from supplementary fees related to check-in, luggage and boarding passes, which for some carriers could be two-fifths of their turnover.
The non-binding opinion from Yves Bot, an advocate general at the Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice, came in a case involving Vueling, now part of IAG.
Judges, who typically follow the advisers' recommendations in the majority of cases, will rule in the coming months.
Vueling found itself in a Spanish court after a passenger complained about a €40 surcharge levied by the company for checking in two pieces of baggage online. It was later fined €3,000 by a Spanish consumer body.
A Spanish court subsequently sought guidance from the ECJ as to whether Spanish laws, which ban baggage check-in charges, comply with EU rules.
Bot said that they did not.
"The Spanish legislation which prohibits air carriers from charging for checking-in passengers' baggage in the form of an optional price supplement is incompatible with EU law," he wrote in his opinion. www.vueling.com
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