Qantas is being sued for allegedly selling tickets for cancelled flights

Qantas Airways has been sued by Australia's competition regulator for allegedly selling tickets to flights that had been canceled, which could result in hefty fines and damage to the airline's reputation. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accused the carrier of breaking consumer law by selling tickets to over 8,000 flights between May and July 2022 without disclosing their cancellation. The ACCC also claimed that Qantas continued to sell tickets for an average of 16 days after canceling flights, including a Sydney-to-San Francisco flight that was still being sold 40 days after cancellation. 


The maximum penalty for Qantas could be a fine of 10% of its annual turnover, which was A$19.8 billion ($12.8 billion) in the year to June, although the ACCC did not provide a specific amount. Qantas has stated that it will review the ACCC's allegations and respond in court, but noted that the period examined was a time of "unprecedented upheaval for the entire airline industry." However, Rico Merkert, deputy director of Sydney University's Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, warned that the ACCC lawsuit "could be detrimental for the Qantas brand, which has had a bit of a tough patch lately in any case."


Qantas has recently faced criticism over flight cancellations, lost luggage, and long airport lines after Australia reopened its borders in late 2021. At an Australian Senate hearing this week, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce confirmed the airline had nearly A$500 million in unused credits for canceled flights that would expire in December. In response to the ACCC lawsuit, Qantas has scrapped the 2023 deadline for using the credits, with Joyce acknowledging in a video message that "we know the credit system was not as smooth as it should have been and... people lost faith in the process."

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During the Senate hearing, Joyce also revealed that in 2022, Qantas had requested that the federal government deny Qatar Airways' request to increase flights to Australia, a move he claimed was necessary to ensure "reliable air travel" for consumers. ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb emphasized the importance of dependable air travel for Australians who rely on it for visiting loved ones, taking holidays, growing businesses, or connecting with colleagues.

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