An embattled Qantas says it accepts the consumer watchdog’s demand that it reimburse passengers for a wide range of expenses after it grounded its fleet last weekend, but it remains unclear just how far the airline plans to go in meeting those demands.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has told Qantas to reimburse passengers for everything from hotel and transport costs to missed pleasure cruises and flights booked while Qantas was grounded, even if the passengers didn’t end up taking the flights.
Those demands are well above Qantas’s previous promise to pay passengers $350 a day for accommodation, meals and transport and to refund or rebook missed flights.
In a statement, Qantas said it “agrees to and accepts” the ACCC’s statement and would “compensate passengers for all reasonable losses incurred as a direct result of the grounding.” The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that the airline might seek to water down the watchdog’s demands.
Qantas said it would also soon announce further measures meant as an apology to customers. The company has already launched a marketing blitz, taking out full-page newspaper advertisements today telling passengers affected by the grounding that they “can look forward to a special thank you.” The company has so far declined to say what that might be.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce also sent out a long email to the airline’s eight million frequent flyers defending his decision to suspend flights over the weekend in the midst of a labor dispute – a move that stranded some 70,000 passengers. Qantas resumed flying on Monday after Fair Work Australia ordered the airline and its unions to halt industrial action.