Flight Centre fined $13.2 million following price-fixing scandal

A plane.
Flight Centre's Managing Director, Graham Turner Photo credit: AAP

Flight Centre Australia has been ordered to pay AU$12.5 million (NZ$13.2 million) in fines following a price fixing scandal.

The Full Federal Court of Australia imposed the fine, increasing the penalty from the original figure AU$11 million (NZ$11.6 million) Flight Centre was ordered to pay in March 2014.

Flight Centres Managing Director Graham Turner, said the company is examining the judgement and considering seeking leave to appeal against the latest penalty judgement.

“This was a complex test case as evidenced by the contrasting judgments during the past six years,” Mr Turner said.

Between 2005 and 2009, Flight Centre approached Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Emirates asking them to charge customers more on their websites than the travel agency offered.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) originally took the matter to court and appealed the March 2014 order because it thought AU$11 million was too small a fine.

"Flight Centre is Australia's largest travel agency, with $2.6 billion in annual revenue," Chairman Rod Sims said.

"We will continue to argue for stronger penalties, which we consider better reflect the size of the company, as well as the economic impact and seriousness of the conduct.

"The ACCC wants to ensure that penalties for breaches of competition laws are not seen as an acceptable cost of doing business.

"To achieve deterrence, we need penalties that are large enough to be noticed by senior management, company boards, and also shareholders."

This ruling was against Flight Centre Australia and none of Flight Centre New Zealand's stores were involved or fined.

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