Regional Express (Rex) has appointed law firm Clayton Utz to pursue all legal remedies in response to what it claims to be “predatory and anti-competitive” behaviour by Qantas.
Fred Prickett will be leading the Clayton Utz litigation team, joined by Rex’s other competition advisors Rachel Trindade and former Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) commissioner Dr Rhonda Smith.
In a statement, Rex said its legal team will explore “all legal avenues to stop Qantas from abusing its market position in order to push its competitors out”.
In addition, the airline said it will fully cooperate with the ACCC and provide it with all necessary assistance with a view to ensuring that Qantas “is held to account and the interests of consumers across the country are protected”.
The ACCC told Parliament in March 2021 that it was continuing to investigate potential anti- competitive conduct by Qantas in relation to its acquisition of a 19.9 per cent stake in Alliance Airlines.
The competition watchdog has also told Parliament that it is using its compulsory information powers to look at questions about whether Qantas’ conduct on regional routes will lead to higher prices for consumers.
The ACCC’s investigation into Qantas’ operations follows Rex’s criticism of the flying kangaroo’s regional strategy.
John Sharp, deputy chairman of Rex, also pointed out that Qantas’ compliance with consumer laws has also come under the ACCC’s microscope in recent years, and referenced a number of the national carrier’s past price-fixing indiscretions.
“Qantas’ willingness to lose money simply to weaken the competitor is all the more immoral and unconscionable at a time when it is already beneficiary to billions of dollars of state and federal assistance and lobbying for more bailouts,” said Rex deputy chairman John Sharp.
“Taxpayers’ money must not be used to fund companies engaged in activities detrimental to consumers, especially when such companies have a history of criminal conduct and show no hesitation to re-offend.
“The finding on 30 July 2021 by the Federal Court that Qantas deliberately broke the law when retrenching 2,000 staff further proves the point that Qantas will not hesitate to keep breaking the law while rewarding its CEO with eight-figure salaries.
“Rex’s initiative today signals its intention to stand up strongly for the Australian consumers to put a stop to Qantas’ actions that are calculated to limit or prevent competition, as this will inevitably result in higher fares and poorer service for consumers.”
Travel Weekly has contacted Qantas for comment.
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