Qantas has now filed its legal defence with the Federal Court in response to claims made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in August 2023.
The case, which is proceeding in the Australian Federal Court, contends that the national carrier allegedly sold tickets on more than 8000 ‘ghost flights’ which it had actually already cancelled.
Qantas rejects ‘ghost flight’ claim
In a media statement issued today, the Qantas group says that in pure legal terms, the ACCC’s case ignores a fundamental reality and a key condition that applies when airlines sell a ticket.
Qantas rejected the notion of ghost flights because people who paid for a flight were given a flight, or a refund. This was not a case of ‘fee for no service’, the national airline Group claimed.
It argues that because the nature of travel – when weather and operational issues mean delays and cancellations are inevitable and unavoidable – makes such a guarantee impossible.
The airline statement went on to say: “We fully acknowledge that the period examined by the ACCC was extremely difficult for our customers.”
“Restarting flying after the COVID shutdowns proved a challenge for the whole industry, with staff shortages and supply chain issues coinciding with huge pent-up demand.”
“Qantas cancelled thousands of flights as a result and there were many unacceptable delays. While we restarted safely, we got many other things wrong and, for that, we have sincerely apologised.”
8,000 flights May-July 2022
In August this year, the competition watchdog ACCC alleged that for more than 8,000 flights scheduled to depart between May and July 2022, Qantas kept selling tickets on its website for an average of more than two weeks and in some cases for up to 47 days, after the cancellation of the flights.
In a rebuttal of this allegation, Qantas said in their statement today:
“We acknowledge there were delays and we sincerely regret that this occurred, but crucially, it does not equate to Qantas obtaining a ‘fee for no service’ because customers were re-accommodated on other flights as close as possible to their original time or offered a full refund.”
In their summary, Qantas fully acknowledged that the period of the post-COVID restart was deeply disappointing and frustrating for customers. “Mistakes were made,” the Qantas Group said.
“While this level of upheaval is hopefully never repeated, we have strengthened our systems and processes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Qantas faces fines worth hundreds of millions of dollars if they are found to be guilty of misleading their customers by advertising the thousands of ‘ghost flights’
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