Ryanair rapped over air passenger duty adsBut complaints about tax bill claim rejected

18 July 2007

Ryanair was today rapped for adverts which criticised Gordon Brown over air passenger duty.

The budget airline used pictures of the then Chancellor in press adverts which complained about the increased tax rate.

One advert said Mr Brown had 'fleeced' holidaymakers in an air passenger tax 'deception', adding: '£1 billion just disappears into greedy Gordon's pockets.'

The advert continued: 'Not a penny spent on the environment, aviation accounts for just 2 per cent of CO2 emissions and yet he pulled it off - unbelievable.'

Four Ryanair press adverts each featuring Mr Brown drew 48 complaints from readers.

Carbon claims

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today upheld objections to three of them, saying the airline had breached advertising rules relating to truthfulness.

Ryanair's claim that aviation made up 2 per cent of CO2 emissions was based on global carbon dioxide emissions, the industry watchdog said.

Treasury figures for emissions from domestic UK flights and international flights leaving the UK put CO2 emissions at 5.5 per cent of the UK's total carbon dioxide output, the ASA found.

The watchdog said: 'We considered that, because Ryanair had failed to make the basis of the 2 per cent figure quoted in the ad sufficiently clear, it was likely to mislead.'

Referring to air passenger duty, one of the Ryanair adverts included the claim '...not a penny spent on the environment'.

Air passenger duty

That claim was misleading because the airline could not prove the Government had not spent - or did not intend to spend - any revenue from air passenger taxes in this way, the ASA said.

The watchdog told Ryanair not to repeat the misleading claims in future adverts.

Responding to the inquiry, Ryanair said its 2 per cent figure had come from the United Nations' inter-governmental panel on climate change.

The airline said it used a global figure for the aviation industry's CO2 emissions because the issue was a global one.

Global issue

Ryanair insisted the Government had not earmarked any money from air passenger duties for environmental projects.

The airline received no reply when it wrote to Mr Brown about the issue, it said.

The ASA rejected complaints from readers who challenged Ryanair's claim that 'UK tourists will pay £1 billion more in taxes.'

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