Germany's highest court has banned budget airline Ryanair from charging German customers a fee for paying with a credit card. The news came as the Irish airline announced plans for fresh investment in Germany.
Germany's Federal Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that Ryanair put customers at a disadvantage by charging them a fee for using a credit or debit card to pay for tickets.
By charging the fee, the airline was thrusting on customers the costs of fulfilling its own legal obligations, the court, based in the southwestern town of Karlsruhe, said.
Germany's leading consumer organization brought the case against the Irish budget airline for charging a fee of between 1.50 and 4 euros ($1.90 - $5) per passenger, saying Ryanair did not offer consumers any way to pay for flights without paying an additional fee. However, no fee was charged for paying with a Visa Electron card, a sister card to the Visa Debit card.
Ryanair had argued that it was simply passing on to consumers the fee banks charge for credit card payments.
Ryanair to create new jobs
The court ruling came as Ryanair announced plans to build a 25-million-euro crew training facility and maintenance hangar at Frankfurt's Hahn airport. The airline said the fresh investment would create up to 200 new jobs in the country.
Ryanair says it plans to invest 25 million euros in new facilities in Germany
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary told a press conference in the city of Mainz on Thursday that, among other things, his airline intended to invest in two flight simulators and an airplane fuselage for training purposes.
He said the company was planning to rent a large maintenance hall that the airport will arrange for an investor to build at a cost of about 8 million euros. O'Leary said construction work was due to begin in July. Starting in December, a major part of Ryanair's fleet would be serviced at Hahn, he added.
About 1.5 million euros would be invested in a training center, located in an existing building, and the new facility would be in use as soon as August.
O'Leary added that Ryanair intended to boost the number of planes it has based at Hahn from 11 to 16 over the next five years, creating 350 new jobs.
The number of passengers was expected to rise from four million to six million a year.
Hendrik Hering, transport minister of the state of Rhineland Palatinate, where the airport is situated, said he was pleased with the decision. He said the airline's expansion plans were likely to attract other investors because it was now clear that Ryanair intended to stay at Hahn airport.
Editor: Ben Knight