Hungary investigating Wizz Air after fining Ryanair €765,000

  • Wizz Air Getty Gdansk
    Wizz Air

    IATA/ICAO code:
    W6/WZZ

    Airline type:
    Very low cost carrier

    Year of foundation:
    2003

    CEO:
    Jozsef Varadi

    Country:
    Hungary

Wizz Air could be in trouble as the Hungarian government has ordered an investigation into the local low-cost carrier for alleged violations of consumer protection laws. The inquiry into the investigation, ordered by the Hungarian Ministry of Justice, comes after the ministry received an increasing number of complaints from passengers against Wizz Air.

Complaints about Wizz Air failures

Complaints against the Budapest-based airline centered on its failure to provide timely assistance and accurate information to affected passengers whose flights were canceled or delayed. Other complaints also related to Wizz Air’s failure to provide adequate accommodation, help rebook flights for these affected passengers, and fail to respond to passenger complaints within the 30-day period.

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Wizz Air would also impose a surcharge on helpline calls, which directly violates Hungarian law and consumer rights. Passengers further added that they had been overcharged by the low-cost carrier, although charges usually range from £14 to £160 ($16.50 to $188.57), and Wizz Air has never provided help through its call center, which referred them to go through emails and the official complaint form. According to passengers, the airline never returned and was never reimbursed for the additional costs.

Wizz Air is the second airline under investigation by the Hungarian government. Photo: Wizz Air

Identify non-compliant companies

The investigation into Wizz Air is the second of such inquiries launched under Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban since June. It was announced that the government would start imposing taxes on all industries, including the loss-making aviation industry, which benefited from additional means of profit resulting from the surge in demand after the pandemic.

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair was the first airline to suffer the heavy levies, as the Hungarian government found it guilty of several consumer protection violations, almost similar to the complaints filed against Wizz Air. Unfortunately for Ryanair, the Hungarian government was fined a hefty $780,000. Still, the low-cost carrier retaliated by appealing, cutting some routes out of Budapest and reducing flight frequencies.

However, the fines imposed on the guilty companies, such as Ryanair and soon possibly Wizz Air, are simply intended to help increase government funds for pre-election donations, which would allow Orban to win a fourth consecutive term. However, according to the Department of Justice, the fines are justifiable, pointing out:

“The fines detect, stop and punish any possible illegal behavior since all companies must comply with the law.”

Harm the Hungarian aviation industry

With two of Europe’s biggest low-cost carriers already under investigation, any airline operating in Hungary may be under investigation. While Wizz Air has yet to respond for comment, when Ryanair received the fine, the Hungarian low-cost carrier said the Hungarian airline industry is already taking a long time to return to revenue and performance levels. pre-pandemic profitability. Having such investigations and being hit with very heavy fines only hinders the recovery.

And despite its many bases and extensive route network, Wizz Air’s recent quarterly loss of around 452.5 million euros ($462.2 million) further highlights the seriousness of Hungary’s aviation industry. Being based in Budapest doesn’t help Wizz Air either, as it doesn’t have the luxury of moving its flight operations elsewhere if the Hungarian government imposes a fine. With Ryanair withdrawing flights, this strongly indicates that if other international airlines were to be fined, they could retaliate in the same way and move capacity elsewhere, further damaging an industry barely in the making. to recover.

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Source: ABC News

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