Ryanair set to charge passengers extra taxes on prepaid Spanish flights

Ryanair recently sent an email to already booked and confirmed passengers travelling to and from Spain, which read something like this... 

RYANAIR LETTER
Dear Customer,

The Spanish 2012 budget was passed into law on Saturday 30 June, as a result all airlines are obliged, with effect from 1 July onwards to collect increased Spanish airport departure taxes from all passengers booked on flights after that date.

It appears that the increased Spanish airport departure tax may also apply retrospectively to customers who booked flights before the 2nd July 2012 and are travelling from the 1st July onwards.

In accordance with Ryanair's General Terms and Conditions of Travel (Article 4.2.2) we hereby advise passengers that we may be forced to debit passengers for the increased airport departure tax imposed by the Spanish government for all flights departing from Spain which were booked before the 2nd July 2012 for travel from the 1st July 2012 onwards.

Once the Spanish authorities confirm whether the increased airport departure tax applies retrospectively (as set out above), Ryanair will notify passengers by email of the additional charges applicable to their pre 2nd July booking. Passengers not wishing to accept the additional tax will have the option to cancel their flight and receive a full refund.

N.B. All new flight bookings departing from Spanish airports made on or after the 2nd July are not affected by this retrospective clause as the increased departure tax has already been included in the purchased flight price.

Ryanair Holdings plc (Company No. 249885) / Ryanair Ltd. (Company No. 104547).
Registered in the Republic of Ireland. With registered address Corporate Head Office, Dublin Airport, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

END OF LETTER

The obvious questions that arise from this are...
  1. Can an airline charged already paid and confirmed passengers more money for a flight than what was already agreed and paid, despite the small print?
  2. What damage will this do to Spanish Tourism? In other words, perhaps the authorities will gain some more taxes, but the country may well lose a number of Tourists at the same time, which is their main economy. 
We encorage all the feedback from Perpetual Traveller readers.

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