The Balearic consumer affairs department has issued its highest ever fine to the airline Iberia for what is deemed to have been abusive practice.

The airline has been fined 440,000 euros for a "no-show" clause. If passengers don't make one of the two journeys for a return booking, they lose the rights to the other journey.

Iberia has been pulled up by the department on three occasions over the past three years for exactly the same clause. The airline has incurred fines totalling 60,000 euros. The department has now decided to get much tougher with Iberia, which will be able to appeal.

The government, via the consumer affairs department, received seven complaints between 2015 and 2017 related to this clause. Iberia, the department considers, has been responsible for a "very serious infringement". The fine takes into account the airline's "recidivism".

The department has this year received a total of 1,586 complaints related to air travel. The director-general, Francesc Dalmau, said yesterday that this is still the source of most complaints registered by consumer affairs.

Patricia Gómez, the minister, stressed that the protection of the consumer is one of the priorities of her ministry (she is also the health minister) and that abusive practices will continue to be monitored. She added that some airlines are doing the right thing and welcomed the fact that they had dropped no-show clauses.