Airline Bought Tickets For Already Canceled Flights, Watchdog Group Says

Qantas Airways, Australia’s nationwide airline, offered hundreds of tickets for flights that it had already canceled, the nation’s shopper watchdog mentioned in a lawsuit towards the provider, and left vacationers scrambling to make various preparations.

In a press release on Thursday, the Australian Competitors and Client Fee mentioned it had began authorized proceedings in Australian federal courtroom towards Qantas. It mentioned the airline had engaged in false, deceptive or misleading conduct by promoting tickets for greater than 8,000 flights scheduled from Might 2022 to July 2022 that it knew it might by no means fly.

The airline mentioned it took the allegations “seriously” and would reply to them in full in courtroom. However, in a press release, it famous that the flights had occurred at a time of “upheaval” for the trade, throughout a “challenging” postpandemic return to normalcy.

In its submitting, the watchdog group mentioned tickets remained obtainable for a median of greater than two weeks and generally so long as 47 days after the flights had been canceled.

The flight cancellations have been sometimes associated to not climate or staffing shortages however to circumstances inside the airline’s management, together with modifications in “consumer demand, route withdrawals or retention of takeoff and landing slots at certain airports,” Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the chair of the Australian Competitors and Client Fee, mentioned in a press release. The fee didn’t state why Qantas would have offered tickets for canceled flights.

The information got here as anger swirls in Australia at revelations that the federal government blocked Qatar Airways from including flights to Australia to guard Qantas’s pursuits, in flip maintaining fares at double the price of these of earlier than the pandemic.

The proposal, which might have added a million seats a 12 months and almost definitely have diminished costs, was blocked by Catherine King, the transportation minister, who mentioned it was not in Australia’s nationwide pursuits, together with the “need to ensure that there are long-term, well-paid, secure jobs by Australians in the aviation sector.”

The airline faces a separate class-action lawsuit over its coverage on flights canceled due to the pandemic, wherein the airline issued journey credit that will expire slightly than give refunds to prospects.

“By acting in this way,” the swimsuit alleges, “Qantas has enjoyed significant financial benefits at its customers’ expense.”

In a press release, Qantas mentioned the interval referred to by the watchdog “was a time of unprecedented upheaval for the entire airline industry.” The corporate posted a document revenue of round 2.5 billion Australian {dollars}, or $1.6 billion, for the fiscal 12 months that ended June 30. Throughout the pandemic, it acquired 2.7 billion Australian {dollars} in assist from taxpayers, which it has mentioned it won’t pay again.

Chatting with the Australian Broadcasting Company, the nation’s public broadcaster, on Friday, Ms. Cass-Gottlieb mentioned the fee would search “a record penalty” of a minimum of 250 million Australian {dollars} from the airline to ship a warning to corporations about consumer-related misconduct.

“This is going to be an important test for us. We consider these penalties have been too low,” she mentioned, including: “We are going to seek a penalty that will underline that this is not just to be a cost of doing business — it is to deter conduct of this nature.”

The earlier highest penalty, 125 million Australian {dollars}, was issued to Volkswagen in 2020 after the carmaker was discovered to have misled customers and regulators about its compliance with Australian diesel emissions requirements.

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Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a passionate and talented article writer with a flair for captivating storytelling. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for research, she weaves compelling narratives that leave readers wanting more. When she's not crafting words, Emma enjoys exploring new cuisines and honing her photography skills.

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