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Flight Centre’s price fixing dispute isn’t over yet

... as FLT takes its first steps into Mainland Europe

Flight Centre Travel Group (FLT) has acquired a Netherlands-based corporate travel agency marking the group’s first foray into Continental Europe.


Image Bruce Long


The acquisition of privately-owned, Business Travel Development (BTD), represents the third new country FLT has bought into this financial year – after acquisitions in Mexico (July) and Malaysia (November) – and has expanded the company’s footprint to 14 countries, including New Zealand, US, Canada, South Africa, Singapore, India, China and UAE.


FLT launched in the UK in 1995 and expanded into Ireland (by acquisition) in 2014.


FLT managing director Graham Turner said the BTD purchase gave the company a cost-effective, low risk entry to a key global market.


“Having a company-owned presence in the Netherlands strengthens our proposition for national and multi-national clients and gives us a platform for further growth in the country and in Europe more broadly,” he said.


“Future opportunities include the launch of a dedicated SME offering, to complement the FCM business and possibly a leisure travel offering in the longer term.”


BTD generated more than EU10.3million (over AU$15 million) in revenue in the 2015 fiscal year.


Meanwhile, FLT’s price fixing dispute with The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) looks set for the High Court after the Federal Court granted the ACCC the opportunity to appeal its decision to overturn a ruling against the retailer.


Flight Centre successfully appealed a 2013 Federal Court decision that ruled FLT had breached the law by insisting airlines not offer prices directly to travellers that were lower than those available on its website between 2005 and 2009.


However, the High Court has now agreed to hear the ACCC’s appeal against that appeal, which resulted in a refund of the $11 million penalty, plus interest, reported.


ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said: “This case raises important issues for the application of competition laws in Australia in the future, as online offers are increasingly being made directly to consumers by both agents and their principals.”


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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 14 March 2016

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