Qantas leaves the ACCC disappointed on first day of ghost flights case

Melbourne Australia- March 14, 2014: Qantas airplanes wait for departure at Melbourne Airport
Edited by Travel Weekly

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been left unsatisfied by Qantas as it has accused the airline of failing to address its accusations about ‘ghost flights’ on the first day of court.

    In August, the consumer watchdog alleged that Qantas deliberately sold tickets for 8000 flights that it had already cancelled between May and July 2022.

    The ACCC also alleges that the national carrier took an average of 18 days, or in some cases up to 48 days, to notify ticket holders of 10,000 flights that were already cancelled.

    Leading the consumer watchdog’s charge, ACCC lawyer Christopher Caleo KC claimed that there was “a failure on the part of Qantas to respond directly to the key allegations of conduct”.

    Caleo argued that Qantas could have to hand over more information if initial requests for particulars didn’t address the issue.

    Qantas’ barrister Robert Yezerski SC argued that Qantas’ response was “relatively clear”.

    The judge, Helen Rofe, has directed Qantas to hand over a response to the watchdog’s request by 1 December.

    Rofe has also ordered a separate hearing to determine what is being sought by the ACCC.

    The chair of the ACCC, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, said previously that she wants Qantas to pay as much as $250m for the selling of ‘ghost flights’. This figure is twice the amount a company has ever been ordered to pay by the ACCC.

    Qantas has denied breaking consumer laws and claimed the ACCC does not understand “the realities of the aviation industry”.

    Court documents from the airline have contended that customers don’t purchase a particular flight, but a “bundle of rights” that includes alternative options in the event of cancellation.

    The airline also acknowledged that it was not been up to scratch during the period of inquiry, but mentioned it was a difficult time in aviation.

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