Qantas has pushed back on claims heaped on the airline in recent days that it engaged in charging “fees for no service” after the competition watchdog alleged it sold tickets for flights that had already been cancelled in 2022.
In a statement to the ASX on Monday morning, the airline said it had a long-running practice in place to assist consumers if the services they booked were disrupted.
“Some commentary suggested that Qantas was engaged in charging a ‘fee for no service’ due to cancelled flights over this period,” the company said.
“Our longstanding practice is that when a flight is cancelled, customers are offered an alternative flight as close as possible to their original departure time, or a refund.”
However, the airline’s refund policy, especially for flights affected during the pandemic, has come under concerted criticism from customers, while news at the end of last week that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was taking the company to court over allegations it advertised thousands of already-cancelled flights added fuel to the fire.
Qantas responded to the ACCC’s action in a statement to the market on Monday, saying the business understood the claims had caused significant concern to its customers.
“We want to address those allegations as best we can without cutting across the legal process we are now involved in, which follows an ACCC investigation with which we fully co-operated.”
Qantas said that the period of time the claims relates to, in the middle of 2022, “was one of well-publicised upheaval and uncertainty across the aviation industry, as Qantas struggled to restart post-COVID”.
“We openly acknowledge that our service standards fell well short and we sincerely apologise. We have worked hard to fix them since and that work continues.”
The company also acknowledged that the consumer watchdog’s action against it comes after a period of reputational damage for the brand.
“The ACCC’s allegations come at a time when Qantas’ reputation has already been hit hard on several fronts.
“We want the community to know that we hear and understand their disappointment. We know that the only way to fix it is by delivering consistently. We know it will take time to repair.”
Qantas shares were 3.3 per cent lower to $5.63 just before 12.30pm.
More to come.
The Business Briefing newsletter delivers major stories, exclusive coverage and expert opinion. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.
Source: Thanks smh.com