Flight Centre has instantly responded to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s claims of price fixing, with md Graham Turner saying the allegations relate to “legitimate discussions” the company had with some airlines to ensure that it had access to all fares that were released to the market.
He said Flight Centre had clearly outlined its position to the ACCC since it first requested information almost three years ago, and would vigorously defend the case.
“For the past 30 years, Flight Centre has built its reputation on making travel more affordable,” he said.
“It is not in the business of making airfares more expensive and does not ask suppliers to raise prices or to withdraw fares.
“As an agent, Flight Centre asks for adequate commissions from airlines and other suppliers and also reasonable access to all fares that they release to the market. This is a logical and natural business request for an agent to make to ensure the customers it serves are not disadvantaged,” he said.
Turner revealed that the ACCC had initially requested information after Flight Centre ended airline contract discussions with Singapore Airlines in April 2009, and then temporarily treated the airline as a non-preferred supplier.
He said that FC’s concerns at the time mainly related to proposed changes in SIA commission rates and the airline’s “failure to give customers access to certain fares at a competitive price”.
Since then FC and SIA have agreed a contract which gives customers access to all of Singapore Airlines’ airfares.
“Flight Centre provided full details to the ACCC on this and other subjects, but until today was not made aware of the ACCC’s specific concerns,” Turner said.
“Despite numerous requests from Flight Centre, the ACCC failed to explain the legal basis of its position or to describe the conduct it believed the company should desist from,” he added.
Turner said the company was questioning why it took so long for the ACCC to launch legal action when it “had all of the facts and was given all of the relevant documents more than two years ago”.
He said Flight Centre’s commitment to delivering cheap fares had been in place since the early 1980s, and “today this pricing commitment is articulated in Flight Centre’s lowest airfare guarantee, which invites customers to ‘bring us a quote and we will beat it’”.
More information in Monday’s Travel Daily.
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