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Set for takeoff: Qantas debacle prompts push for travel watchdog

An air travellers’ ombudsman could be set up to ensure complaints about poor service are handled better.

Sep 07, 2023, updated Sep 07, 2023
Qantas's string of disasters has prompted the government to consider a travel watchdog. (Image: Supplied)

Qantas's string of disasters has prompted the government to consider a travel watchdog. (Image: Supplied)

The suggestion is included in a 224-page aviation green paper released by Transport Minister Catherine King on Thursday.

Ms King is seeking public and industry feedback on a new long-term strategy for the aviation sector.

“We are looking at stronger consumer protections, improvements to complaint handling processes, and improved accessibility for consumers living with disability,” she said.

“Through this process, we are also seeking to understand whether options pursued in other jurisdictions – such as a customer rights charter or a stronger ombudsman model – would deliver benefits to Australia’s aviation sector.”

The green paper also looks at how to get more competition into the sector.

Australia’s domestic aviation sector is highly concentrated, with few market participants.

Qantas Group controls 61.7 per cent of the domestic market, and Virgin Australia 33.4 per cent.

Feedback is also invited on how to ensure airlines can transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The government’s safeguard mechanism climate policy requires the largest airlines to reduce their emissions each year.

Ms King said access to affordable air services was also an important issue.

“They are a key contributor to the liveability of regional Australia, and it is essential that regional services remain viable,” she said.

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