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Qantas says it’s ready to fight ACCC flight cancellation allegations


The Flying Kangaroo has also extended indefinitely the time for customers holding COVID credits to claim a refund.

Qantas says it will respond to the ACCC allegations in court.

Qantas is staring down allegations by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that it continued to sell flights that were already cancelled and failed to inform travellers on affected services in a timely manner.

In a response issued just after the ACCC announced its Federal Court proceedings, Qantas said it was taking the allegations very seriously.

“We have a longstanding approach to managing cancellations for flights, with a focus on providing customers with rebooking options or refunds,” the airline said.

“It’s a process that is consistent with common practice at many other airlines.

Qantas defended its alleged actions from the May to July 2022 the suit pertains to, saying the period was a time of “unprecedented upheaval for the entire airline industry”.

“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.

“We will examine the details of the ACCC’s allegations and respond to them in full in court.”

ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb.

The ACCC is accusing Qantas of continuing to sell tickets on its website for more than 8,000 flights that had already been cancelled, with fares remaining on sale for an average of two weeks.

Further, for more than 10,000 flights departing between May and July 2022, Qantas took an average of nearly three weeks, and in some cases more than six weeks, to notify customers of a cancellation, with no updates made to the ‘Manage Booking’ section of its website.

“We allege that Qantas made many of these cancellations for reasons that were within its control, such as network optimisation including in response to shifts in consumer demand, route withdrawals or retention of take-off and landing slots at certain airports,” said ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb.

Cases in point

The ACCC cites ten key examples of Qantas flights allegedly affected.

Flight Number

Date

Route

Date Cancelled

Customers informed

QF93

6 May 2022

Melbourne-LAX

28 April 2022

4 May 2022

QF81

4 June 2022

Sydney-Singapore

8 February 2022

28 March 2022

QF63

31 July 2022

Sydney-Johannesburg

8 February 2022

28 March 2022

QF486

1 May 2022

Melbourne-Sydney

18 February 2022

16 March 2022

QF1785

1 May 2022

Gold Coast-Sydney

17 February 2022

16 March 2022

QF696

23 July 2022

Adelaide-Melbourne

18 June 2022

27 June 2022

QF1764

27 June 2022

Canberra-Gold Coast

16 June 2022

20 June 2022

QF513

8 June 2022

Brisbane-Sydney

27 May 2022

31 May 2022

QF45

1 May 2022

Melbourne-Denpasar

8 February 2022

23 March 2022

QF649

30 July 2022

Sydney-Perth

18 February 2022

8 March 2022

Most complained about airline

The ACCC said it continues to receive more complaints about Qantas than any other business, last year receiving more than 1,300 gripes from disgruntled travellers about cancellations, making up half of all complaints received about the airline.

Under a directive from the Federal Government, the competition regulator closely monitored prices, costs and profits of all major Australian airlines between June 2020 and June 2023 as the industry navigated and started its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

Qantas has extended the deadline for customers to claim refunds from COVID-19 cancellations.

COVID credit refund deadline extended indefinitely

After a week in damage control since Qantas and Jetstar executives were grilled by a Senate committee on unclaimed COVID-19 flight credits, the airline has now removed the former expiry date of 31 December 2023 on when customers can claim refunds from previously cancelled bookings.

It’s the fourth extension the airline has provided to customers, which Qantas says makes the policy “one of the most flexible of any airline in the world”.

Due to system limitations, Qantas says credits can’t be converted into a new booking after 31 December 2023 however can still be claimed as a refund.

The airline will continue to remind customers who still hold credits through emails, text messages, phone calls and advertisements, with double Qantas Frequent Flyer points on offer from 4 September 2023 for new bookings made with credits before the end of the year.

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 31 August 2023

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