The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched court action against Qantas, alleging the airline engaged in deceptive conduct.
The consumer watchdog claims that Qantas advertised tickets for more than 8,000 flights that had already been cancelled but not removed from sale, with most tickets sitting on the airline’s website for more than two weeks post-cancellation on average.
In some cases, the airline let the tickets sell on their website for up to 47 days despite the flights already having been cancelled.
The flights in question were scheduled to depart from May to July 2022.
During this period alone, the national carrier cancelled almost one in four flights, with about 15,000 out of 66,000 domestic and international flights from Qantas’ published schedule being cancelled.
The ACCC is also alleging that Qantas failed to notify ticketholders on more than 10,000 flights during the same period that their flight had been cancelled for upwards of two weeks in most cases.
The airline didn’t notify ticketholders on cancelled flights until 18 days on average and failed to update its “Manage Booking” web page accordingly.
Qantas will be hauled before the Federal Court of Australia for the proceedings.
The airline’s conduct over its cancelled flights in the May to June period impacted a substantial proportion of the total cancellations, ACCC alleges.
For about 70 per cent of cancelled flights, Qantas continued to sell tickets for the services on its website or delayed informing ticketholders about the cancellation for two days or more.
ACCC boss Gina Cass-Gottlieb said the court action had arisen following a detailed investigation into the airline’s flight cancellation practices.
“As a result, we have commenced these proceedings alleging that Qantas continued selling tickets for thousands of cancelled flights, likely affecting the travel plans of tens of thousands of people,” she said in a statement.
“We allege that Qantas’ conduct in continuing to sell tickets to cancelled flights, and not updating ticketholders about cancelled flights, left customers with less time to make alternative arrangements and may have led to them paying higher prices to fly at a particular time not knowing that flight had already been cancelled.
“There are vast distances between Australia’s major cities. Reliable air travel is essential for many consumers in Australia who are seeking to visit loved ones, take holidays, grow their businesses or connect with colleagues. Cancelled flights can result in significant financial, logistical and emotional impacts for consumers.”
The court action comes at the end of a tumultuous week for Qantas, after CEO Alan Joyce faced a grilling at a Senate inquiry into cost of living on Monday.
His performance was widely lampooned by the government and in the financial press, which accused the 57-year-old executive of deliberately dodging questions.
The airline is also facing criticism for lobbying the government to reject a bid from Qatar Airways for more international flights, which some analysts believe would have brought in $800 million to Australia’s travel and tourism industry.
Read the full article here