Virgin Blue has called upon the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to release its draft report on Anti-competitive Conduct in the Domestic Airline Industry.
The airline feels compelled to make this request to the ACCC after receiving a letter last week stating that the report was to be held back for an indefinite period of time.
The Commission stated that there were “divergent views in the industry in relation to anti-competitive conduct and the merits of guidelines.” It is clear that many industry representatives did have significant competition concerns and wanted greater guidance from the ACCC.
It appears that other parties suggested that the ACCC should await the outcome of litigation against Qantas and other relevant cases before the courts here and overseas. This is the approach adopted by the Commission, yet these cases will likely take years to resolve and do not deal with many of the issues raised with the Commission. In the meantime, the industry is without guidance from the Commission and numerous submissions by various parties will be ignored.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey said, “Many stakeholders from the aviation, tourism and transport sectors have put in hundreds of hours giving the ACCC their views on this critical report. Certainly neither Virgin Blue nor Qantas will agree with all of the findings, but we imagine that any airline would want the opportunity to understand and respond to the ACCC’s views on competition in the aviation industry. We are also sure the travelling public wants assurance that the Commission is committed to protecting competition in this industry.”
Brett Godfrey continued “Even if the Commission believes that it is inappropriate to issue guidelines at this time, we can at least let the industry and the public participate in the debate as to the future of aviation competition in Australia. After Compass 1, Compass 2, Impulse, Ansett, not to mention the tough times faced by so many independent regional carriers, the public should be given the chance to be fully informed of the Commission’s views so that they can participate in the debate over the future of aviation competition policy in Australia. After over ten years of waiting, why postpone this discussion further?”
While Virgin Blue has welcomed recent ACCC proceedings on its January 2001 complaint over capacity dumping on the Brisbane-Adelaide route, the low-fare airline believes the pending report is likely to be far more important in the development of a stable and sustainable aviation industry.
The value to consumers and the industry of clear guidance from the Commission on competition in the aviation industry far outstrips the significance of the Commission’s case against Qantas. Brett Godfrey finished.
The airline has requested the ACCC reconsider its position and publish its draft report with or without suggested guidelines as soon as possible.
The text of the letter from the ACCC to Virgin Blue dated 27/05/02 is available in TIF format for viewing in the press section of the Virgin Blue website.