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Qantas adds direct Paris flights, defends ACCC claims

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A shot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Qantas will begin direct flights from Perth to Paris in 2024.
There’s been a flurry of announcements from Qantas.

The airline has revealed it’ll be adding a direct Perth-Paris route from July 12, 2024, adding extra capacity in time for Australians attending the Olympics in Paris in late July and early August. The new route will also benefit business events in Perth and Australia more broadly, providing an additional 75,000 direct seats between Europe and Australia each year.

During the peak of the European summer, Qantas will fly Perth-Paris four times per week until mid-August, where frequency of the route will drop to three return services per week.

This is the first time Qantas has operated flights to the French capital in almost two decades. The direct route will also cut three hours of travel time from the current fastest travel option between Perth and Paris.

“This route has been on our wish list for a while and we think customers will be as pleased as we are to see it go on sale today,” said Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson.

“Our direct flights to London and Rome have been hugely popular and Paris is the next most-requested destination, so we know the demand for this service will be strong as well.

“Some of the first customers on these flights will be Australian athletes heading to Paris to compete at the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We’re the only airline offering these direct flights rather than going through a mid-point because the key market we serve is Australia. Our in-flight service is designed with long-haul travel in mind,” she said.

The direct route between Rome and Australia remains seasonal, operating from mid-June until early October each year.

Over the weekend, Qantas also celebrated its return to mainland China, with its first flight to Shanghai taking off from Sydney on Sunday morning.

This service will operate five days per week until late March 2024, adding 2,500 seats each week between Australia and China. The service will become daily from March.

“The business travel market is a key focus for this route, and we expect the recent trade developments will drive more travel between Australia and China,” said Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace.

“While demand from Chinese visitors wanting to travel to Australia is below the record levels that we saw prior to the pandemic, demand has been steadily climbing since borders reopened.”

This morning, Qantas also released a defence of its actions relating to the court action brought against the airline by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), over selling flights it had already cancelled and delaying telling customers who had already booked that their flight had been cancelled.

Having now filed its defence against the accusations made by the ACCC, Qantas released a statement this morning, in which the carrier said: “While mistakes were made by Qantas, the ACCC’s legal case ignores the realities of the aviation industry – airlines can’t guarantee specific flight times.”

In the statement, the airline says it did not take fees for no service and that the delays in notifying passengers about cancelled flights were not for commercial gain.

Qantas says in the period targeted by the ACCC, all impacted domestic passengers “were offered same-day flights departing prior to or within one hour after their scheduled departure time” and that 98 per cent of international passengers “were offered reaccommodation options on flights within a day of their scheduled departure date”. The airline also says that in most cases passengers were notified “weeks or months” before the cancelled flight.

In its statement Qantas says the reasons for delays in notifying passengers of cancellations included giving its own team more time to determine alternative options for customers, during an already chaotic period, trying to avoid lengthening already-long wait times at Qantas’ call centres and due to human error.

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