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Qantas’ $100M Settlement Over Phantom Flights Scandal

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Australia’s biggest airline, Qantas, has agreed to a massive A$100 million (€61 million) settlement. This deal follows accusations of selling thousands of tickets for already cancelled flights. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued the Sydney-based airline in the Federal Court last year. They alleged that Qantas engaged in false, misleading, or deceptive conduct. The airline advertised tickets for more than 8,000 cancelled flights between May 2021 and July 2022.

Moreover, Qantas will launch a compensation plan worth A$20 million (€12 million). This plan aims to compensate over 86,000 affected customers. Vanessa Hudson, the chief executive of Qantas, expressed regret over the situation. She stated, “Today represents another important step forward as we work towards restoring confidence in the national carrier.”

Vanessa Hudson acknowledged that Qantas let down customers post-COVID shutdown. The airline failed to provide timely cancellation notifications, affecting many customers. She added, “We are sincerely sorry,” highlighting the company’s commitment to rectifying the issue.

However, a Federal Court judge has yet to accept the settlement. This uncertainty leaves room for further developments in this high-stakes case. The ACCC’s chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, condemned Qantas’ actions. She described their conduct as “egregious and unacceptable.” Cass-Gottlieb emphasized that many consumers made plans based on non-existent flights.

In response to the announcement, Cass-Gottlieb said, “We are pleased to have secured these admissions by Qantas that it misled its customers.” She noted that the significant penalty agreement reflects the severity of Qantas’ conduct.

This case has highlighted critical issues within the airline industry, especially regarding customer trust. Qantas’ actions during the post-COVID period have been under intense scrutiny. Consequently, the airline’s reputation has suffered, and rebuilding trust will be a challenging task.

The settlement is a step towards accountability, but more actions are necessary. Qantas must implement better practices to prevent such incidents in the future. Customer trust is paramount, and airlines must prioritize transparency and reliability.

The A$100 million settlement marks a significant moment for Qantas. This case serves as a reminder of the importance of honesty in business practices. Qantas’ commitment to compensation and improvement is crucial. However, restoring customer confidence will require consistent efforts and genuine accountability.

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