Ryanair has been rapped by a watchdog for “misleading” holiday-makers into believing they could fly to Dublin to celebrate the New Year for just £7.
The advertisement, published in national newspapers, stated: “To be honest we here in Dublin aren’t that upset about waving goodbye to the past year but that doesn’t mean we won’t be celebrating its final few breaths in typical Irish fashion.”
Rival budget airline easyJet complained that the ad “misleadingly implied it was possible to travel to Dublin to celebrate New Year’s Eve from £7”, whereas the smallprint stated the promotion was for travel between January and March.
Ryanair said the travel period had been extended, but this was “missed during their sign-off process”. It also said the ad was run in co-operation with Tourism Ireland who provided the text.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld the complaint and ordered that the ad must not reappear.
It concluded: “Consumers were likely to expect the promotional prices advertised to be relevant for travel to Dublin over the New Year period. We also considered, however, that the smallprint ’Book until midnight 16.12.10. Travel Jan – Mar’ contradicted that impression. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”
The ASA also told Michael O’Leary’s carrier “to ensure qualifying text did not contradict the overall impression of future ads”.
It is not the first time the watchdog has been called in to rule on a dispute between the low-cost carriers.
In April two Ryanair ads and one easyJet ad were banned after they were found to have made false claims relating to cheap flights.
Last year the ASA was forced to intervene after easyJet “denigrated” its rival by suggesting Ryanair did not fly passengers to the destinations they had booked.
And a legal row over a Ryanair ad which likened easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou to Pinocchio resulted in the carrier paying out undisclosed libel damages.