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Hungary fines Ryanair $780,000 in consumer protection probe – minister

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS plane takes off from Riga International Airport, Latvia July 21, 2022. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

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BUDAPEST, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Hungary has fined Ryanair 300 million forints ($780,000) after a consumer protection investigation into the airline’s passing on the cost of a special tax levied on industry, the Minister of Justice announced on Monday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist government announced in May an 800 billion forint tax on “additional profits” made by big business. The tax was intended to plug budget holes created by a spending spree that helped him win re-election in April.

Ryanair had called on Orban’s government to scrap what he called a “misguided” new tax, which is levied at a rate per departing passenger. The tax would harm Hungary’s tourism and economy, the airline said. Read more

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“The Consumer Protection Authority today found a breach of the law as the airline misled customers with its unfair commercial practice,” Justice Minister Judit Varga said in a Facebook post. .

Ryanair, which also challenged the tax levied on a loss-making industry, said it would be forced to shift growing capacity to countries struggling to restore traffic in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rival carrier Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) said it would take a long time for the airline industry to return to revenue and profitability levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the tax would hamper the recovery of the tourism sector.

($1 = 384.88 forints)

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Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Anita Komuves; Editing by David Goodman and Bradley Perrett

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