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The Australasian by NewsServices.com



Through the class action, consumers seek to recover compensation after billions of customer dollars was allegedly unlawfully retained by Qantas during COVID.

Andrew Paull, the partner at Echo Law who's running this action, said,

Proceedings against Qantas Airways Limited (QAN) have been lodged in the Federal Court on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Qantas customers whose flights were cancelled during the COVID pandemic. 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 Qantas is alleged to have committed. The claim was served on Qantas today.
“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,” says Andrew Paull, Partner at Echo Law.

“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,”

“As customers sat at home and did it tough through the COVID pandemic, Qantas enjoyed the significant financial benefits of 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,”

“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,” Mr Paull said.

“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,”

“While Qantas has talked in recent weeks of giving customers the ‘option’ of requesting a refund, this is both too little and too late. That money ought to have been automatically returned to customers, in most cases more than three years ago, and we are seeking both refunds of all remaining credits as well as compensation for the time customers have been out of pocket.”

The allegations against Qantas made in the class action include:

a. that Qantas engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in contravention of s18 of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) – in particular, this claim arises due to the manner in which Qantas communicated with its customers in early 2020 about their options in respect of flights that could not proceed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions;

b. that Qantas has been unjustly enriched by holding a very significant quantum of customer funds that it ought to have refunded; and

c. that Qantas engaged in a system or pattern of unconscionable conduct, in contravention of s21 of the ACL.

The litigation is supported by Australian litigation funder CASL.

Qantas customers can learn more about the class action and register their interest in being updated as it proceeds at www.echolaw.com.au/qantas.

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