Hungary has fined Ryanair 300 million forints ($780,000) after a consumer protection investigation into the airline passing on the cost of a special tax levied on the industry, the justice minister said today.
Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government in May announced a tax worth 800 billion forints on "extra profits" earned by major companies.
The tax was intended to plug budget holes created by a spending spree that helped him gain re-election in April.
Ryanair had called on Orban's government to scrap what it called a "misguided" new tax, which is levied at a rate per departing passenger.
The tax would damage Hungarian tourism and the economy, the airline said.
It said today that it would immediately appeal the "baseless" fine, adding that no notice of any such fine has yet been received by it.
"The consumer protection authority has found a breach of the law today, because the airline has misled customers with its unfair business practice," Justice Minister Judit Varga said in a Facebook post.
Ryanair, which has also taken issue with the tax being levied on a loss-making industry, said it would be forced to move growth capacity to countries that were working to restore traffic in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline said it would immediately appeal what it considers to be a baseless fine, adding it had received no notice of the penalty.
"As the Hungarian Govt is well aware, EU Reg 1008/2008 allows all EU airlines the freedom to set airfares for their intra-EU air services as they so choose, without any interference from national Governments or their Consumer Protection Agencies," it said in a statement.
"This EU law prohibits the Hungarian Government from introducing retrospective travel taxes while attempting to unlawfully limit the right of airlines to pass such unjustified taxes onto passengers."
Rival carrier Wizz Air has said it would take a long time for the airline industry to return to revenue and profitability levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.
It said the tax would hamper the recovery of the tourism sector.