Italy’s Blue Panorama Airlines is considering whether to appeal against a €1 million ($1.1 million) fine imposed by the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) for what the authority described as “unfair commercial practice” by the carrier.

An AGCM investigation found that the Fiumicino-headquartered airline—which specializes in charter and leisure flights to a variety of Mediterranean, Caribbean and African destinations—was levying a charge on passengers who arrived for their flights with discrepancies between the spelling of their names in their flight documentation and passports.

The AGCM said a fee of €50 was charged “in cases of incorrect registration of the passenger’s name at the time of booking, specifically for cases of omission of any middle names or surname or in the case of alteration/lack of some letters.”

In some cases, however, AGCM said the problem was caused by the airline not providing sufficient space on its website booking form for a passenger’s full name to be inserted. Nor did the airline give any indication on the website that not providing a full name could result in a financial penalty.

The penalty was only imposed when passengers arrived at the airport for their flights. The Skytrax flight review website contains multiple complaints from travelers who had to make the additional payment before being allowed to fly.

“The request for the aforesaid penalty … occurred directly at the airport, with the flight imminently leaving and under penalty of not being allowed to board,” the AGCM said in a statement on its website. It added penalizing passengers for the lack of a full name in documentation was “substantially independent” from any need to ensure flight security.

The authority said the seriousness of the airline’s behavior was compounded by the widespread nature of the problem, “which has affected a very large number of consumers and the evidence acquired from investigations which showed the clear objective of increasing business revenue via this policy.”

Blue Panorama’s fleet, according to its website, consists of three Boeing 767-300ERs, four 737-800s, four -400s and one -300.

In a statement to ATW, Blue Panorama said: “Our company’s focus on correctly identifying passengers was not only found to be entirely lawful by Italy’s ordinary courts of law, but also complies with our obligations under Italian and international laws for reasons of public security as well as for the purpose of improving border checks and preventing unlawful activities. At first glance, the decision of the Italian Competition Authority appears to be disproportionate, considering we provided full cooperation throughout the investigation—undertaking also commitments and measures in the meantime to improve communications with customers at the recommendation of the Authority. Therefore, Blue Panorama reserves the right to appeal against this decision with the relevant administrative courts.”

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com