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Europe

EU to Stop Airlines Pulling Wool over Customers' Eyes

Rules to stop airlines from advertising deceptively cheap tickets are due to come into force on the weekend across the European Union. Brussels also wants the total air fare to be immediately visible when booking.

An airplane

Airlines are under pressure to come up with clear-cut pricing policies

Jointly approved by the EU's 27 member states and by the European Parliament, the rules require airlines to include all taxes and charges in their published ticket prices.

Officials in Brussels want to see an end to advertisements promising 0- or 1-euro (dollar) tickets, with extra charges hidden behind an asterisk, and to airline Web sites that only reveal the full cost of booking right at the end of the transaction.

"Fair competition is the key to success: with price transparency, passengers will know in advance how much they are going to pay and will be able to make informed choices," said EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani.

Airlines are also required to publish the exact breakdown of the different components that make up a ticket price -- such as taxes, airport charges and other fees -- and must stop selling the same ticket for different prices in different member states.

Furthermore, passengers will no longer be asked to "opt-out" of extras such as travel insurance or baggage fees. Instead, they will have to tick the relevant boxes first.

And in a bid to avoid sudden bankruptcies by new airlines, national regulators must now ensure that carriers have enough money to operate their flights for at least 12 months.

Since the new rules must be enforced by individual member states, the exact way in which they will be applied could vary slightly from country to country, officials warned.

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