The low-cost airline Ryanair faced fresh criticism yesterday after it was accused of offering a flight to a European city that landed in a different country.
The Consumers' Association said Ryanair, more than any of its competitors, often used airports that were miles from the cities they served.
Ryanair's website included Copenhagen as one of its destinations, yet the flight actually landed at Malmo in Sweden. The airline justified its inclusion saying it was a 45-minute bus ride there.
Other destinations included Bologna's Forli airport, which was in a small town 37 miles from the city, the association's magazine, Holiday Which? reported.
The report said: "No-frills airline Ryanair makes a song and dance about its bargain fares on certain routes. But it is not so outspoken about a smoke-and-mirrors technique it uses to keep prices down."
The rival low-fare airline Go has been running adverts claiming that Ryanair "misleads" people about where it flies to. Both airlines run London flights from Stansted airport, which is as far from the city as Forli is from Bologna.
Two complaints by Ryanair against Go's advert – which began "Trick or Treat?" – were rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority but a third was upheld, concerning a claim that it tried to hide the airport tax passengers paid.
Ryanair's marketing director Tim Jeans said: "This report in Holiday Which? is a piece of very poorly researched nonsense. We don't advertise flights to Copenhagen – we fly to Malmo. As for Bologna, we carry more passengers on this route than either British Airways or Go who both use the other Bologna airport.
"We have not had a single complaint about our Bologna service and we work very closely with the Advertising Standards Authority in formulating our adverts."
However, the Consumers' Association said its research was based on advertisements it had seen in November and December last year.
Ryanair is also involved in litigation with the German carrier Lufthansa over its use of Hahn airport, 60 miles from Frankfurt. Last month, a court ruled that Ryanair can advertise its base as "Frankfurt-Hahn" for now, although Hahn's distance from Germany's financial centre contrasts with the city-edge location of the main Frankfurt airport.
But the court in Cologne issued a preliminary injunction that said Ryanair must stop comparing fares from Hahn with Lufthansa's fares from the main airport.