Travel Agents

Flight Centre loses ACCC case on airfare conduct

Daisy Melwani

Flight Centre has lost a High Court battle with The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over airfare prices that initially found the travel agency group to have engaged in anti-competitive conduct and previously fined $11 million.

In a statement released on the ASX today, Flight Centre (FLT) revealed the High Court overturned the unanimous Full Court of the Federal Court judgment in FLT’s favour delivered in July 2015, concluding that the ACCC had won the test case it initiated in 2012 against the group.

The long-running ACCC and Flight Centre dispute was centered around whether the group had breached competition laws regarding international airfares between 2005-2009, per a report on the ABC.

It is argued between that period, Flight Centre made approaches to Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Emirates over discounted international airfares, with the agency accused of trying to induce the airlines into contracts on airfare prices after discovering the three airlines were selling direct to customers at lower rates than FLT could offer, per reports.

Initially Flight Centre was fined $11 million, but the decision by the Federal Court in 2013, however was overturned at a later appeal in 2015.

However today, the court has upheld the Federal Court decision which found the company to have breached competition law by asking the airlines to curtail their direct sales to customers.

The case was ordered to return to the Federal Court to determine the penalties Flight Centre now faces.

Flight Centre stated it was reviewing the decision and will provide an update later today.



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