Eight major airlines operating into Australia have been forced to change the way that they advertise airfares following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Qantas is not one of them.
The ACCC said that under section 48 of Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA)*, businesses that choose to advertise a part of the price of a particular product or service must also prominently specify a single total price.
During a review of airlines for compliance with these obligations, the ACCC identified several websites that did not display airfare prices inclusive of all taxes, duties, fees and other mandatory charges.
The airlines identified in the review included:
Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd;
Tiger Airways Australia Pty Ltd / Tiger Singapore Pte Ltd;
Air Asia X Sdn Bhd;
Malaysia Airlines System Berhad;
Air New Zealand Limited;
LAN Airlines SA;
American Airlines Inc; and
Etihad Airways PJSC.
The ACCC notified each airline that it considered prices displayed on their website were a breach of section 48 of Schedule 2 of the CCA, insisting on prompt action to make their website compliant.
The non-compliant airlines each responded by changing their websites to display all-inclusive prices for all available international airfares departing Australia.
One of the airlines, American Airlines Inc, had also failed to display all-inclusive airfares for its domestic travel in Australia, which has now been rectified.
This review followed a significant guidance program conducted by the ACCC across various industries, including the travel industry, helping businesses better understand their compliance obligations.
“This ACCC action means that consumers now have accurate price information, and airlines have a more level playing field on price representations in this fiercely competitive industry where consumers are price sensitive,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.
“All airlines carrying on a business in Australia must advertise airfares that include all applicable fees and taxes.”
“The ACCC will not tolerate further non-compliance. These pricing requirements have been in place since 25 May 2009.”
“Non-compliance is likely to attract strong enforcement action to stop similar conduct in the future.”
“All businesses are reminded that they must comply or face possible court action with civil penalties or the issuing of infringement notices over such practices.’
* On 1 January 2011, the Trade Practices Act 1974 was renamed the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 as part of Australian Consumer Law amendments. Section 48 of Schedule 2 replaced section 53C of the Trade Practices Act 1974.