Qantas issued an apology for selling tickets to more than 8,000 flights last year but attributed the failure to the uncertainty in the aviation industry following the Covid pandemic.
Australian airline Qantas apologised to the Australian competition regulator and customers for the fall in its service standards and acknowledged that it was suffering damage which is impacting its reputation on Monday. The apology came after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the nation’s competition regulator, sued the airlines for allegedly selling tickets for thousands of cancelled flights.
The ACCC reprimanded Qantas last week and told the court that the carrier went against consumer laws when it sold tickets to more than 8,000 flights between May and July 2022 without disclosing they had been cancelled, news agency Reuters reported.
The ACCC highlighted in the lawsuit that Qantas ticket sales for those cancelled flights went on for 16 days. It also pointed out that the cancellations were for reasons which were under the control of the airlines.
This meant that because of Qantas’s actions customers were left with less time to make alternative bookings and may have paid higher prices to fly at a particular time.
A report by the Associated Press, citing the ACCC, said that in one case Qantas sold 21 tickets for a July 29, 2022, service from Sydney to San Francisco up to 40 days after that flight was cancelled.
The airlines released a statement where it said that it was reviewing the allegations made by the competition regulator. They said that the period of time the ACCC allegations refer to were a time when the aviation industry was going through a period of “upheaval and uncertainty” which was “well-publicised”.
Qantas said that it offers an alternative flight to customers when the original flight they were supposed to be on is cancelled, close to the original departure time, or a refund.
“The ACCC’s allegations come at a time when Qantas’ reputation has already been hit hard on several fronts. We want the community to know that we hear and understand their disappointment,” Qantas said.
“All airlines were experiencing well-publicised issues from a very challenging restart, with ongoing border uncertainty, industry wide staff shortages and fleet availability causing a lot of disruption,” the airline said in a statement.
Qantas received many complaints of flight cancellations and lost luggage mostly due to staff shortages when Australia opened its borders in late 2021 after the pandemic.
The ACCC last week was left unimpressed with Qantas selling tickets of thousands of flights that had already been cancelled.
“We consider that this should be a record penalty for this conduct. We are going to seek a penalty that will underline that this is not just to be a cost of doing business,” ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
“We consider these penalties to have been too low. We think the penalties should be in hundreds of million, not tens of million,” she further added.