A class action has been launched against Qantas in the Federal Court on behalf of thousands of the airline’s customers whose flights were cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Echo Law said the failure of Qantas to refund money when flights were cancelled, in accordance with their own conditions of carriage, is one of a number of unlawful actions the airline is alleged to have committed.
“Qantas is currently one of the world’s most profitable airlines and that profit has been built, in part, on funds it unlawfully retained from its customers,” Echo Law partner Andrew Paull said.
“While COVID posed major disruption to air travel and resulted in cancellations that no airline wished to make, that is no excuse for Qantas to take advantage of its own customers and effectively treat them as providers of over $1 billion in interest-free loans.
“We allege Qantas breached the law by failing to be transparent and immediately issue refunds to customers when flights were cancelled. Instead, Qantas held onto its customers’ money and pushed out travel credits with strict conditions, which we allege it was not entitled to do. It now needs to be held accountable and refund that money with interest.”
Paull said Qantas enjoyed “significant finance benefit” from holding billions of dollars in customer payments, including interest and reduced borrowing costs.
“It is unfair and, we allege, unlawful that Qantas profited from holding onto its customers’ money for flights that couldn’t proceed,” he said.
“Qantas customers have also often been required to pay the airline more than their original booking to use their credits on new fares and have been pressured by the airline to do that or lose the value of their flight credits.
“In addition, there are many customers who, for various reasons, will not use their flight credits before they expire at the conclusion of calendar 2023, at which point the credits will ‘expire’ and their value will reduce to $0.”
How to join the class action
Echo Law said it did not cost any money to register for the class action and participants wouldn't be “out of pocket” as a result.