Qantas responds to ACCC lawsuit over ghost flights scandal

Qantas has denied breaking the legislation over the ghost flight scandal and accused the patron watchdog of failing to grasp the “actuality” of the airline business.

Australia’s prime shopper watchdog the ACCC has filed a lawsuit within the Federal Court docket, alleging Qantas bought 1000’s of tickets on already cancelled flights, within the interval from Could to July final yr.

However in a press release to the ASX on Monday, Qantas confirmed it had filed a authorized defence and that it denies that legal guidelines had been damaged.

“Whereas errors had been made by Qantas, the ACCC’s authorized case ignores the realities of the aviation business – airways can’t assure particular flight occasions,’’ Qantas stated.

“All prospects on cancelled flights had been provided an alternate flight or refund; there was no ‘price for no service’.

“As we’ve stated from the beginning of this case, we absolutely acknowledge that the interval examined by the ACCC was extraordinarily troublesome for our prospects. Restarting flying after the Covid shutdowns proved a problem for the entire business.

“Qantas cancelled 1000’s of flights consequently and there have been many unacceptable delays. Whereas we restarted safely, we received many different issues flawed and, for that, we now have sincerely apologised.”

Qantas didn’t launch the authorized defence in full, as an alternative offering a press launch and instructing media retailers to use for the doc by the federal courtroom.

However the airline stated it “rejected the notion of ghost flights as a result of individuals who paid for a flight got a flight, or a refund. This was not a case of ‘price for no service’.”

“Whereas all airways work exhausting to function flights at their scheduled occasions, no airline can assure that. That’s as a result of the character of journey – when climate and operational points imply delays and cancellations are inevitable and unavoidable – makes such a assure inconceivable,’’ it stated.

“For that reason, our promise is to get prospects on their technique to their vacation spot as shut as potential to the flight time they ebook, both on their authentic or an alternate service at no extra value. If not, we provide a full refund. That is in line with our obligations below shopper legislation and is what we did through the interval the ACCC examined.

Why did Qantas cancel 1000’s of flights through the interval the ACCC checked out?

Qantas blamed the Covid-related provide chain shortages for the mess, admitting it meant plane had been grounded, there have been big spikes in sick depart and self-quarantine necessities Some worldwide borders had been additionally nonetheless in flux.

“To assist stabilise our operations, we made the choice to make giant cuts to our deliberate flying,’’ Qantas stated.

“That meant cancelling a whole lot of flights that had been already within the system, which we did on common Two-and-a-half months earlier than scheduled departure in order that we may higher handle the affect on prospects by discovering alternate options.

“For example of the dimensions concerned, Qantas needed to course of greater than 415,000 itinerary modifications within the months of February and March 2022 alone.”

Why was there a delay in telling prospects their flight was cancelled?

Qantas claims within the defence that the longer delays in telling passengers the flights had been cancelled concerned discovering various choices for purchasers.

“Generally, the delays between us making the choice to cancel a flight and notifying prospects allowed Qantas time to seek out them an alternate,’’ the airline stated.

“This was occurring months forward of after they had been because of journey and our precedence is at all times to seek out alternate options inside hours or a day of their authentic departure time, specializing in these closest to their journey date first.

“For the cancellations in query, the place the flights had been to depart properly into the longer term, we consider this might have resulted in a considerably extra irritating buyer expertise. I

“As an alternative, we waited to have the ability to inform prospects ‘your flight has modified’ relatively than ‘your flight has been cancelled’.”

What’s modified to cease this occurring once more?

Cancelled flights are actually taken off sale instantly, properly contained in the 48 hours that the ACCC case flags.

“This can be a handbook course of and wouldn’t have been potential through the interval the ACCC examined given the extent of upheaval at the moment. Qantas is presently creating a tailor-made IT answer that might hyperlink to our third-party system and automate this course of.’’ it stated.

Qantas insists that 100 per cent of impacted home passengers had been provided same-day flights departing previous to or inside one hour after their scheduled departure time.

“Generally, prospects had been rebooked on these various flights weeks or months forward of after they had been really because of journey, permitting them to plan,’’ Qantas stated.

“The ACCC’s case pertains to cancelled flights that had been left on sale for longer than 48 hours. We acknowledge there have been delays and we sincerely remorse that this occurred, however crucially, it doesn’t equate to Qantas acquiring a ‘price for no service’ as a result of prospects had been accommodated on different flights as shut as potential to their authentic time or provided a full refund.

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