Sky-high: After ditching cap, Italy probes airline ticket pricing

Italy’s competition watchdog launched an investigation Thursday into the pricing of flights to Sicily and Sardinia, seeking to address concerns over sky-high tickets after the government abandoned plans for a price cap.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition unveiled a headline-grabbing plan this summer to cap the price of tickets to and from its islands, only to quietly withdraw the move following criticism, notably from low-cost carrier Ryanair.

In a statement Thursday, the competition watchdog said it had launched an investigation into “the possible negative effects” of the use by airlines of price algorithms on the market and the offers available to consumers, and also into the way ticket prices are communicated.

It said the probe, focusing on routes connecting mainland Italy to Sicily and Sardinia, followed a spike in prices during peak periods.

The investigation could result in new national regulations or airline-specific measures, the authority said.

Meloni’s government announced in August that it would cap the price of tickets between the mainland and Sardinia and Sicily during peak periods at 200 percent of the average annual price.

Ryanair, the leading airline in Italy in terms of routes and flights offered, condemned the move as illegal, while the European Commission also asked for more information.

In an amendment to the law published in September, the cap was dropped. — Agence France-Presse