Ryanair has been fined €1.85m by the Italian Competition Authority for failing to give adequate information to customers when the airline cancelled thousands of flights last year due to pilot shortages.

Ryanair said that it noted the ruling, which its lawyers are reviewing.

The fine relates to the crisis at Ryanair last September when pilot shortages forced the cancellation of over 20,800 flights across Europe.

Over 400,000 passengers were affected, with some stranded for periods of time.

It emerged that the company had been experiencing significant pilot shortages, exacerbated by a failure to properly manage the allocation of annual leave for pilots.

The Italian Competition Authority said that the cancellations in September and October 2017 which had caused significant inconvenience to consumers were not due to unforeseeable causes or problems beyond the airline's control, but rather were triggered by organisational and management problems.

The authority said Ryanair had initially failed to correctly inform passengers of the existence of their right to financial compensation, as provided for under EU legislation.

However, the it acknowledged that following the opening of the authority's investigation, Ryanair altered its procedures by updating passenger information on its website, and by sending individual communications to affected consumers on how to exercise their rights.

Because of this, a lower fine was imposed that originally planned.

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Despite the cancellations debacle, Ryanair posted profits for last year of €1.45 billion - up 10% on the previous year.

Passenger numbers grew by 9% over the same period, with the highest growth rates in Italy, Germany and Spain.

EU regulators to rule on Ryanair-Laudamotion deal by July 12

EU competition regulators will decide by July 12 whether to wave through Ryanair's bid for a 75% stake in the rebranded former Niki airline Laudamotion.

This is according to a filing on the European Commission site today.

Europe's largest budget airline formally sought approval for the deal yesterday as it moves to consolidate its foothold in Austria, a fast-growing hub for eastern European destinations.

The EU competition enforcer can clear the deal with or without conditions or it can open a four-month investigation if it has serious concerns the deal may hurt competition.