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Qantas admits reputation ‘hit hard on several fronts’

written by Adam Thorn | September 4, 2023

Victor Pody shot this Qantas 787, ZH-ZNN

Qantas has admitted its reputation has been “hit hard on several fronts” in its first significant response to the ACCC’s legal action against it.

In a statement released on Monday, the Flying Kangaroo hinted it is unable to explain its defence in more detail due to the legal process but insisted it fully co-operated with the consumer watchdog’s initial investigation.

It comes after the ACCC revealed on Thursday that it was taking the Flying Kangaroo to court after alleging it was selling tickets to flights it had already cancelled.

“Qantas continues to review the allegations made by the ACCC and will have more to say once we’ve had that opportunity,” the airline said.

“Understandably, these allegations have caused significant concern among our customers, our people and the general community. We want to address those allegations as best we can without cutting across the legal process we are now involved in, which follows an ACCC investigation with which we fully co-operated.


“The period of time that the ACCC’s claims relate to, in mid-2022, was one of well-publicised upheaval and uncertainty across the aviation industry, as Qantas struggled to restart post-COVID. We openly acknowledge that our service standards fell well short, and we sincerely apologise. We have worked hard to fix them since, and that work continues.

“Some commentary has suggested that Qantas was engaged in charging a ‘fee for no service’ due to cancelled flights over this period. Our longstanding practice is that when a flight is cancelled, customers are offered an alternative flight as close as possible to their 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.

“We know that the only way to fix it is by delivering consistently. We know it will take time to repair. And we are absolutely determined to do that.

“To the 25,000 people who make up the Qantas Group, we say thank you. Every day, you are focused on carrying customers safely to their destination, and your professionalism in doing so is superb.”

The full case will see the consumer watchdog allege Qantas engaged in “false, misleading or deceptive conduct” by selling tickets on its website to more than 8,000 flights departing between May and July 2022 for up to 47 days after those flights had been cancelled.

It also claims that Qantas failed to notify ticket holders of more than 10,000 flights departing between May and July 2022 that their flights had been cancelled for an average of around 18 days, with some notifications delayed for up to 48 days, and that it did not update its ‘Manage Booking’ page for ticketholders when flights were cancelled.

The decision to go ahead with court action came from an analysis of data showing Qantas cancelled almost a quarter of flights between May and July 2022, or 15,000 of 66,000 scheduled domestic flights departing from all states and mainland territories

The watchdog said that for 70 per cent of these cancelled flights, Qantas “continued to sell tickets for the flight on its website for two days or more, or delayed informing existing ticketholders that their flight was cancelled for two days or more, or both”.

A day after the ACCC’s announcement of legal action, chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb suggested Qantas should be fined more than $250 million if it’s found guilty.

Speaking on ABC Radio National on Friday morning, she argued there should be a “record penalty” to deter similar conduct in future from other airlines.

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