Renewed call for Government to investigate flight cancellations

Renewed call for Government to investigate flight cancellations

Renewed call for Government to investigate flight cancellations

24 August 2023

Canberra Airport renews call for Australian Government to investigate flight cancellations

Canberra Airport Managing Director Stephen Byron is renewing a call for the Australian Government to step in when airlines have unacceptably high levels of flight cancellation, disrupting passengers who are paying sky-high airfares for the service.

Cancellation rates on the Qantas Canberra to Sydney route remain the highest of any routes between any two airports in Australia. For the period of April to July 2023, an average of 11.8 per cent of all flights on this route were cancelled – a figure well above the average national cancellation rate of 3.6 per cent for the same period.

On average, Qantas is cancelling 53 flights from Canberra to Sydney each and every month, affecting up to 2,900 people travelling on this route. Stephen Byron says Qantas’ claim that cancellations are due to difficulties with air traffic control in Sydney “simply does not stand up”, which is clear when comparing cancellation rates by Virgin Australia for the same route. For the same period of April to July 2023, where Qantas cancelled an average of 11.8 per cent of flights on the Canberra to Sydney route, Virgin Australia’s average cancellation rate for the same route was 3.7 per cent.

"This is not the first time we have seen this behaviour from Qantas, the same issues of cancellations on the Canberra to Sydney service occurred in 2017 and again in 2018. More than five years later, we continue to see anti-competitive behavior from Qantas, who book take-off and landing slots into Sydney Airport with no intention of using them. We are yet again calling on the Federal Government to step in and hold airlines to account for poor performance."

“The conscious, planned decision by Qantas to cancel Canberra flights to Sydney, over other routes into Sydney, is simply unfair to Canberra travellers. Canberrans are paying a premium price to access air travel, which is about travelling fast, and getting to a destination on time on the flight they have booked. People are travelling for family functions, weddings, funerals, business meetings. They should not have to deal with the inconvenience of having their flight cancelled.” Stephen Byron explains.

While airline cancellation statistics are published by the Australian Government, Stephen Byron says airlines have not been held to account over poor performance, with consumers wearing the impacts of this. “There is a strong need for proper accountability by an airline who makes more than 80% of the profit in the entire domestic industry and who have just posted record profits, yet continue to show a complete disregard for the Australian consumer.”

Referring to Qantas' continuous poor performance on this route as a ‘national disgrace’, Stephen Byron is again lobbying the Australian Government, as the protector of consumers, to step in and take charge.

 “In my view, where cancellations by an airline for a month exceed five per cent, the Australian Government needs to consider a proper and formal ‘show cause’ process which involves a truthful explanation, accompanied with an actual rectification plan by the airline. Where cancellation rates exceed ten per cent, the Government should consider implementing fines, as well as the removal of slots.”

For more information, contact:

Emma Drummond, Marketing Manager, Capital Airport Group

0455 227 711