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Wednesday, 14 December 2016 21:42

ACCC wins appeal over Flight Centre price-fixing bid

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has won a High Court appeal over Flight Centre's bid to induce three international airlines to enter price-fixing arrangements between 2005 and 2009 over air fares offered online by the airlines that were cheaper than those offered by Flight Centre.

The court found Flight Centre and the airlines competed in the relevant market which was for the sale of international airline tickets. Flight Centre was also an agent for each of the airlines.

“The ACCC welcomes the High Court’s decision today,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC pursued this matter because we were concerned that Flight Centre’s conduct in this case affected the competitive process. At the core of the matter is the question of whether Flight Centre and the airlines are legally considered competitors. The ACCC has always maintained that they are in competition with one another to sell flights to consumers.

“This decision will provide important guidance for the future application of competition laws in Australia to other situations where competing offers are made directly to consumers by both agents and their principals. It is likely to be particularly relevant when businesses make online sales in competition with their agents.”

Wednesday's decision follows one by the Federal Court in favour of the ACCC in December 2013, which Flight Centre successfully appealed in the Full Court of the Federal Court in July 2015. The ACCC then appealed to the High Court.

The matter will now return to the Full Federal Court for the determination of the penalty appeal and cross-appeal brought by the parties.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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