The competition watchdog has been granted leave to appeal the Federal Court’s decision to overturn a ruling against Flight Centre.
Flight Centre in 2015 successfully appealed a 2013 Federal Court decision that it had breached the Trade Practices Act when it insisted airlines could not offer prices direct to customers that were lower than those available to the travel retailer.
The High Court has now agreed to consider the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s appeal against that decision, which secured Flight Centre an $11 million refund.
“This case raises important issues for the application of competition laws in Australia in the future, as online offers are increasingly being made directly to consumers by both agents and their principals,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
Meanwhile Flight Centre managing director, Graham Turner said the group was “disappointed that the ACCC chose to continue this long-running test case, following the clear and unanimous judgement in Flight Centre’s favour in July last year, and we will once again vigorously defend our position”.
“Given that it is now some six years after the ACCC first requested information from us, we look forward to this matter finally being resolved in the High Court.”
“For more than 30 years, Flight Centre has sought to deliver cheaper airfares to the travelling public,” Turner said in a statement released on the ASX today.
“We are not in the business of attempting to make airfares more expensive and we will continue to fight to be able to seek access to all fares to ensure the millions of customers that we serve are not forced to pay more for their flights.”