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Qantas hit with $120 million fine for deceiving passengers!

Qantas hit with $120 million fine

Qantas Airlines has agreed to a significant settlement of $120 million AUD with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This settlement is a response to a lawsuit initiated by the ACCC, which accused Qantas of deceptive practices towards passengers. The core of the allegation was that Qantas continued to sell tickets for flights they knew would be canceled. This fine is intended to conclude the legal dispute, avoiding a prolonged court battle and potentially higher penalties if the case had continued.

The deceptive strategy employed by Qantas was to cancel flights for a variety of declared reasons while still keeping ticket sales open. Passengers were led to believe their flights would proceed as scheduled. The truth would only be disclosed after passengers had paid for their tickets, at which point it was suddenly revealed that the flight would not take off, often citing unforeseen circumstances. This practice not only misled customers but also unfairly boosted Qantas's financial returns by holding onto revenue for services not rendered.

The reasons given for these cancellations were frequently labeled as "technical," but this term was often just a formal pretext. In many cases, the real motivation behind the cancellations was economic—flights were deemed not profitable enough to operate due to high fuel costs or insufficient passenger load. This calculated decision-making process reflects a broader cost-saving strategy at the expense of customer convenience and trust.

Overbooking is another contentious practice in the airline industry, closely resembling the deceptive tactics used by Qantas. Airlines, including Qantas, often sell more tickets than there are seats available on the aircraft, anticipating that some passengers will not show up. This practice is intended to maximize capacity utilization and profit margins. Unfortunately for passengers, this often results in them arriving at the airport, having paid and planned based on confirmed bookings, only to be told regretfully and too late that there are no seats available for them. Typically, the compensation offered to bumped passengers is minimal, serving more as a token gesture than as adequate recompense for the disruption caused.

Qantas's persistent implementation of these strategies ultimately attracted legal scrutiny, leading to the lawsuit by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The settlement reached not only spares Qantas the further costs and negative publicity of a court battle but also aims to help the airline recover from a reputational standpoint. Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson suggests that the settlement could mitigate the reputational damage, although it remains uncertain how passengers will perceive these actions.

To address the grievances of affected passengers, a portion of the settlement—$20 million AUD—will be allocated as direct compensation. This amount will be distributed among passengers who suffered from the canceled flights, with compensation amounts set at $225 for domestic and $450 for international flight cancellations. While this compensation acknowledges the inconvenience suffered by passengers, it represents only a fraction of the total fine, with the remainder going to the regulatory body, thus highlighting the financial and reputational impact on Qantas more than the direct relief offered to consumers.

Despite the financial burden imposed by the settlement, Qantas remains financially robust. It is projected to achieve a net profit of $1.47 billion AUD in the first half of the current financial year alone. This profitability underscores the airline's capacity to absorb the fine and continue its operations without significant financial strain, suggesting that while the penalty is substantial, it is manageable within the context of Qantas's overall financial performance.



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