Monday, March 30, 2009

Agents fail in fuel surcharge class action

Travel agents have failed in their long-running class action against Qantas for the non-payment of commission on fuel surcharges.

But in a Federal Court ruling, the airline was found to have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by including the levy under the “taxes, fees and charges” code.

In a brief hearing yesterday, Justice Michael Moore ruled that the applicants, Leonie’s Travel, had failed in its claim that Qantas was in breach of contract by not paying commission on the fuel surcharge.

In his 44-page judgement, Justice Moore said Qantas, in his opinion, had since May 2004 “exercised its contractual right to determine the manner and amount of agents’ remuneration”.

The airline determined that commission was payable on the total price, less the amount payable to Qantas as the fuel surcharge, he said.

But he ruled in favour of Leonie’s Travel in the second claim that Qantas engaged in misleading and deceptive by including the levy as tax, fee or charge. Such charges are imposed by air transportation and government authorities only, he said.

“The fuel surcharge is not a tax, charge or fee imposed by governments, authorities or airport operators,” he ruled.

Although action was also bought against other airlines, proceedings, for the moment, are to continue against Qantas only, Justice Moore said.

More in today’s Travel Today.

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