As part of the government’s surcharge crackdown, cinemas, holiday firms and airlines will be stopped from imposing millions of pounds in “hidden last-minute” charges on internet bookings

Treasury minister Mark Hoban said if need be, the Cameron government would legislate  to prevent the imposition of difficult-to-detect  charges on credit and debit cards.

However, the Michael O’Leary-led budget airline said in a statement: “Ryanair, the UK’s favourite airline, today confirms that it does not does not impose any debit or credit card fees.”

Ryanair says it instead charges an “admin fee” per passenger per one-way flight.

This £6 charge is levied when a passenger comes to pay and can only be avoided by using the airline’s own prepaid Mastercard.

It states on its website that this charge “relates to costs associated with Ryanair’s booking system.”

The charge means that, for example, a group of 14 people travelling together would pay £168 extra for their flights, despite the fact that only one payment is processed for the entire group.

John Holmes, principal economist at Which?, who helped compile a report into excessive card charges which formed the basis of a supercomplaint to the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year, told the Guardian Ryanair’s stance would br dismissed by the government.

“The only time the airline charges that £6 admin fee is when a passenger presents a payment method to the airline,” he said.

“The principle of this government legislation is about those charges that are practically unavoidable. You cannot avoid paying for a flight so you cannot avoid the charge.”