As delays force airlines to cool their jets, there’s a push to lawyer up irate passengers

Travellers are streaming back into Australia, and they're bringing the money. Photo: TND/Getty

Travellers are streaming back into Australia, and they're bringing the money. Photo: TND/Getty Photos: TND, Getty

Australian airlines have had turbulent years since COVID-19 arrived, and while some performance metrics have improved, it isn’t all blue skies ahead.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has warned of ongoing supply chain issues while Jetstar remains plagued by flights that are cancelled or delayed.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has now entered the fray calling for Australia to adopt a flight delay and cancellation compensation regime to protect passengers’ rights.

Supply chain issues

Mr Joyce told an audience at the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia event on Monday that he expects supply chain issues to continue to complicate the aviation sector’s recovery for the next 18 months.

It was hard for airlines to source spare parts, putting jets out of action for days rather than hours, Mr Joyce said.

“Aircraft windshields are now a world-wide restricted item,” he said.

“We used to be able to replace a windshield in 12 hours, maybe 24. It took Jetstar nearly seven days to source [one] last month.”

Delays sourcing parts, coupled with the time to train specialist mechanics to install them, may result in further delays and cancellations in coming months.

Qantas will invest $200 million across Jetstar and Qantas to provide extra resourcing to support operational performance.

A Jetstar spokesperson told The New Daily that this includes having a number of Jetstar aircraft and crew on standby.


Jetstar’s woes continued into September, with the carrier dropping one in every 10 domestic flights – double the August cancellation rate.

Less than 60 per cent of its flights departed on time.

Earlier in the month the airline grounded half its international fleet, throwing families’ school holiday plans into chaos and leaving thousands of people stranded abroad.

Up to 4000 people were stuck on the Indonesian island of Bali, with many travellers having to wait days and fork out hundreds of dollars to be rebooked on flights.

One traveller had to book a replacement flight home with Virgin Australia at the cost of $900 a ticket.

By the end of September, three of Jetstar’s 11 Boeing 787 Dreamliners were still out of operation.

A spokesperson for Jetstar told TND: “September was a particularly challenging month for our operations, with a number of an unexpected engineering issues impacting our fleet.

“This caused significant disruptions across our network, and we sincerely apologise to customers whose holidays were impacted.”

Professor Rico Merkert, chair in transport and supply chain management at the University of Sydney, said that Jetstar’s poor time performance for both arrival and departures was not up to scratch when other airlines had been making improvements on those performance metrics.

Compo scheme ‘archaic’

The ALA said that Australian consumer law does not go far enough to protect passengers rights, characterising the country’s current compensation regime as “archaic”.

The group wants travellers to receive monetary compensation for delayed and cancelled flights.

“Australia is the only country that covers an entire continent making air travel essential, and yet air passenger rights are archaic compared to other jurisdictions such as the UK, EU, US and Canada,” spokesperson Victoria Roy told TND.

“Too many passengers seek legal advice regarding compensation for travel disruption only to find Australian consumer law does not adequately protect them … We call for monetary compensation for passengers.”

Current consumer law stipulates that services must be provided within a reasonable time, which the ALA says is too vague.

Overseas schemes in place

Overseas there are fairly straightforward compensation regimes that if you are delayed on a flight, then you’re entitled to compensation.

European travellers have been able to claim compensation for cancelled and delayed flights since 2004.

Flyers receive up to $390 for flights up to 1500 kilometres and $625 for flights of more than 1500 kilometres.

For long-haul flights travellers can claim up to $937.

Ivona Siniarska, a travel industry expert for 1000 Mile Travel Group, told TND that offering compensation might make airlines more accountable for flight cancellations.

“There should be more accountability,” she said. “For some travellers it’s really hard if they can’t get full refunds.”

She said although Qantas does offer some refunds to travellers this isn’t the case across the whole industry.

“If passengers book directly with an airline, particularly a low-cost one, they are relying on that particular airline’s available compensation options and customer service,” she said.

The ALA will make a submission on compensation to the Department of Infrastructure.

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