Key Points:

  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing Qantas for allegedly selling tickets to over 8,000 flights that had been cancelled, without notifying consumers.

  • Qantas has vowed to review the ACCC's allegations and present its defense in court, citing that the period in question was a turbulent one for the airline industry.

  • The maximum fine that Qantas could face for this violation is 10% of its annual turnover, amounting to A$19.8 billion in the year leading up to June, as per Australian consumer laws.

ACCC Takes Legal Action Against Qantas for Allegedly Selling Tickets to Cancelled Flights

SYDNEY — The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced its intent to seek a substantial fine against Qantas Airways, potentially amounting to "hundreds of millions" of dollars. The regulatory body filed court documents on Thursday, accusing the airline of breaching consumer laws by selling tickets for more than 8,000 flights between May and July 2022, without disclosing that these flights had already been cancelled.

Qantas responded by stating it would closely review the ACCC's allegations and formulate a legal response. The airline pointed out that the period scrutinized by the ACCC was fraught with difficulties for the entire aviation industry. However, the airline chose not to comment further on the ACCC's latest statements regarding the size of the fine it might face.

Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the Chair of the ACCC, remarked on ABC Radio, "We are going to seek a penalty that will underline that this is not just to be a cost of doing business, it is to deter conduct of this nature." According to Australian consumer laws, the maximum penalty Qantas could be facing is 10% of its annual turnover, which was A$19.8 billion for the year ending in June.

After Australia reopened its borders in late 2021 post-pandemic, Qantas received the majority of complaints regarding flight cancellations and missing luggage. The airline attributes these issues primarily to staffing shortages during a time of "unprecedented upheaval."