EasyJet under a cloud over £1 flight ads

By Sean Poulter, Daily Mail

Last updated at 08:54 04 June 2003

The budget airline easyJet was censured yesterday for offering flights at £1 each without making clear the final price would be far higher.

The move by the Advertising Standards Authority followed complaints that the headline figure in promotions did not take account of various taxes and charges.

The ASA action puts down a marker to the budget airline industry, which has been criticised for a series of misleading marketing ploys.

Consumers have complained that offers from all the budget airlines often do match the claims, and is is difficult to book the cheap fares featured in the marketing.

EasyJet recently ran three Internet and newspaper adverts promotingflights 'from just £1'. It provoked complaints from the Consumers' Association and members of the public who felt travellers were being misled by the hype.

The ASA upheld a similar complaint against easyJet last week, over a newspaper promotion which claimed to offer 20,000 flights for £1.

The action came as Ryanair, easyJet's main rival, promised a new price war this year. The Irishbased airline announced a 59 per cent jump in profits, to around £172million over the past 12 months, and said it had built up a £600million 'war chest'.

Ryanair also recorded a 42 per cent increase in passenger numbers, up to 15.74million.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said the airline now planned to cut its profit margins and drive down prices. He said: 'We're going to force everybody down for the rest of the year, but we're going to do it from a position of strength.'

Mr O'Leary said he would be trying to increase passenger numbers by 50 per cent this year.

By removing the frills from travelling, Ryanair has been able to make an average profit on tickets of 28 per cent. But it said lower fares this year will cut that to around 20 per cent.

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