Qantas will have to pay millions of dollars to travel agents across Australia after the Federal Court ruled that agents were able to make commissions off fuel surcharges placed by the airline on some tickets.
Qantas and other airlines have been involved in a class action suit brought by travel agents and law firm Slater and Gordon in the Federal Court during 2006, and arose after the airlines failed to include fuel surcharges in the commission calculations. As part of evidence in the trial, Qantas admitted that it would cost it $26 million as commission on fuel surcharges up to 2007, a figure which is understood to have significantly increased since then.
“The time has now come for the airlines, which have been using the fuel surcharge to bolster the bottom line since it was introduced in 2004, to stop fighting the travel agents and resolve this major problem,” said lawyer, Steven Lewis.
Consumer groups have long attacked airline fuel surcharges, which have been imposed at various times due to higher fuel costs, with most claiming that the charges merely help to inflate the profit figures of carriers.