Qantas must pay a $66 million fine after a wrong-way flight scandal

Qantas will also pay out $13 million in compensation to 86,000 travelers affected by the cancellations.

Sydney, Australia:

Australian airline Qantas on Monday paid a $66 million fine following a ghost flight scandal, following allegations it continued to sell seats on long-canceled trips.

The country's competition watchdog said Qantas “admits it misled consumers” by advertising seats on tens of thousands of flights – despite those flights being cancelled.

Qantas will also pay $13 million in compensation to 86,000 travelers affected by the cancellations and failed rescheduling.

“Qantas' conduct was egregious and unacceptable,” said Gina Cass-Gottlieb, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

“Many consumers will have made holiday, business and travel plans after booking a ghost flight that was cancelled.”

Qantas said that in some cases customers were booked on flights that had been canceled “two or more” days earlier.

Qantas chief executive Vanessa Hudson said the airline had “let customers down and failed to meet our own standards”.

“We know that many of our customers have been affected by our failure to provide timely cancellation notices and we are sincerely sorry,” she said in a statement.

The US$66 million (AUS$100 million) fine still needs to be approved by the court.

Long dubbed the 'Spirit of Australia', 103-year-old national carrier Qantas has been on a mission to restore its reputation.

It has faced a consumer backlash, fueled by rising ticket prices, claims of shoddy service and the layoff of 1,700 ground staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Qantas has previously defended selling seats on canceled flights.

It argued that instead of purchasing tickets for specific seats, customers are purchasing a “bundle of rights” and a promise that the airline will “do its best to get consumers where they want to be on time.”

Qantas posted an annual profit of $1.1 billion last year, capping a major financial recovery from the travel turbulence of the Covid years.

Veteran CEO Alan Joyce announced his early retirement amid a barrage of criticism in September last year.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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