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Ryanair adverts claiming it is "Europe's...low CO2 emissions airline" have been banned for 'misleading' customers.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled that the budget airline broke rules over its environmental claims in a number of adverts in press, TV, and radio from September 2019.

While both the TV and radio advert referenced "low CO2 emissions", the print ad claimed "Ryanair has the lowest carbon emissions of any major airline", resulting in complaints.

The airline said the phrasing in the radio and TV ads meant "less than average", and in the print promotion, they were referring to its CO2 emissions per passenger, per kilometre, to four other big European carriers.

However, the ASA said changes must be made as the ads "must not appear again in their current forms", because the claims could not be substantiated.

The regulator said customers would interpret the advertisements as that travelling with Ryanair meant they were contributing less CO2 than travelling with other airlines, which could not be proved.

ASA said: "We told Ryanair to ensure that when making environmental claims, they held adequate evidence to substantiate them and to ensure the basis of those claims were made clear."

Transport and Environment, which campaigns for cleaner travel in Europe, accused the campaign as "greenwashing".

'The adverts must be changed' (Image: PA)

They said: "This ruling is a reminder that the aviation sector's climate impact is soaring because of a decades-long tax holiday and almost zero regulation of their pollution.

"European governments must, without delay, agree bilaterally to tax jet fuel until EU Vice-President Timmermans secures the end of tax exemption."

Ryanair said it was "disappointed and surprised" by the ruling, and maintained that it is the "greenest" airline in Europe.

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In a statement, the company said: "Ryanair's CO2 emissions per passenger km is 66g, which is 25% lower than the other major European airlines.

"Ryanair is delighted with its latest environmental advertising campaign, which communicates a hugely important message for our customers.

"The single most important thing any consumer can do to halve their carbon footprint is switch to Ryanair.

"We successfully ran this advertising message in 10 countries across Europe.

"We made minor adjustments to the advertising in the UK market at the request of the relevant approval bodies.

"We were surprised we had to make these small changes, as the message was approved in other markets and we provided all the supporting data they required."

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