Airline Sold More Than 8,000 Tickets For Flights It Had Already Canceled: Report

Qantas Airways sold thousands of tickets for flights that were already canceled, some for over a month, during the continuing tumultuous days of post-COVID travel and now the feds, watchdog groups, and Australian travelers are pissed.

And they should be. Qantas Airways is in the hot seat after allegedly selling more than 8,000 tickets for flights that were already canceled. Some of those flights had been canceled for over a month while Qantas still advertised and sold tickets, leaving travelers scrambling to find other arrangements. Not only is Qantas alleged to have screwed over customers post-pandemic, the Australian government is still looking out for the airline’s interests, from The New York Times:

The flight cancellations were typically related not to weather or staffing shortages but to circumstances that were within the airline’s control, including changes in “consumer demand, route withdrawals or retention of takeoff and landing slots at certain airports,” Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the A.C.C.C. chair, said in a statement. The commission did not state why Qantas would have sold tickets for canceled flights.

The news came as anger swirls in Australia at revelations that the government blocked Qatar Airways from adding flights to Australia to protect Qantas’s interests, in turn keeping fares at double the cost of those of before the pandemic.

The proposal, which would have added one million additional seats a year and most likely have reduced prices, was blocked by Catherine King, the transportation minister, who said that it was not in Australia’s national interests, including the “need to ensure that there are long-term, well-paid, secure jobs by Australians in the aviation sector.”

To add insult to injury, the Australian taxpayers propped up Qantas to the tune of 2.7 billion Australian dollars during the pandemic. Qantas made 2.5 billion Australian dollars in the last fiscal year, but says it has no intention of paying the people back for the help. Qantas faces a class-action lawsuit as well as federal charges from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which could result in a 250 million Australian dollar fine.

“This is going to be an important test for us. We consider these penalties have been too low,” Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the ACCC chair, said in a statement. “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.”