Airline Sold Tickets for Already Canceled Flights, Watchdog Group Says

Airline Offered Tickets for Already Canceled Flights, Watchdog Group Says

Qantas Airways, Australia’s nationwide airline, bought 1000’s of tickets for flights that it had already canceled, the nation’s shopper watchdog stated in a lawsuit towards the service, and left vacationers scrambling to make different preparations.

In an announcement on Thursday, the Australian Competitors and Shopper Fee stated it had began authorized proceedings in Australian federal courtroom towards Qantas. It stated 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 could by no means fly.

The airline stated it took the allegations “significantly” and would reply to them in full in courtroom. However, in an announcement, it famous that the flights had occurred at a time of “upheaval” for the business, throughout a “difficult” postpandemic return to normalcy.

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

The flight cancellations had been usually associated to not climate or staffing shortages however to circumstances inside the airline’s management, together with modifications in “shopper demand, route withdrawals or retention of takeoff and touchdown slots at sure airports,” Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the chair of the Australian Competitors and Shopper Fee, stated in an announcement. The fee didn’t state why Qantas would have bought 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 lowered costs, was blocked by Catherine King, the transportation minister, who stated it was not in Australia’s nationwide pursuits, together with the “want to make sure that there are long-term, well-paid, safe jobs by Australians within the aviation sector.”

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

“By appearing on this manner,” the go well with alleges, “Qantas has loved important monetary advantages at its prospects’ expense.”

In an announcement, Qantas stated the interval referred to by the watchdog “was a time of unprecedented upheaval for your entire airline business.” 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. Through the pandemic, it obtained 2.7 billion Australian {dollars} in assist from taxpayers, which it has stated it is not going to pay again.

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

“That is going to be an necessary take a look at for us. We take into account these penalties have been too low,” she stated, including: “We’re going to search a penalty that can underline that this isn’t simply to be a value of doing enterprise — it’s to discourage 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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