Vueling Airlines fined for not having an accessible website

by Jaime Iniesta

Vueling Airlines, one of Spain’s major airlines, has been hit with a €90,000 fine for not complying with European accessibility guidelines. The airline has also been banned from receiving public funds from the Secretary of State for Social Rights for six months.

A judge's mace

Photo by Katrin Bolovtsova

The Administrative Chamber of the National High Court in Spain has confirmed the fine of €90,000 and the six-month ban on competing in procedures for granting official aid imposed on Vueling Airlines by the Secretary of State for Social Rights due to non-compliance with accessibility conditions on its website for people with disabilities.

The judges of the Eighth Section threw out the airline’s appeal against the Resolution of October 2020. The Court says that the company’s arguments are not valid and that the infringement is covered by a regulation that has the force of law.

The Court also points out that the Centac report on the website shows that the company has not complied with the regulations:

“If we examine the data below, we find that of the 38 requirements that must be met according to this standard, 4, or 10.53%, are fully met. We find that 26 requirements, or 68.42%, are not met. In addition, 8 requirements, 21.05%, are not applicable”.

The Court says that the six-month ban on receiving official aid is a legal consequence for serious violations. It must be imposed, regardless of the financial impact on the offender, because there are no exceptions in this case.

Finally, the Chamber looks at whether the sanction is fair. It explains that the resolution explains why the amount was decided, taking into account that a lot of people can’t access the website. This is the same as in 2016, when it was inspected and sanctioned, even though Vueling said it was trying to comply with the rules.

With all this in mind, the judges feel that the Administration has assessed that, despite the time that has passed since the previous evaluation of the website and the sanction was imposed, there has been very little progress:

“In short, having given the reasons for imposing it at the maximum level, taking into account the permanence of the infringement and the parties concerned, it is not possible to assess the lack of proportionality of the fine imposed or of the accessory sanction”.

More info at the European Commision and Discamedia.

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