The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Monday decisively banned a price, code-sharing, and scheduling agreement between Qantas and Japan Airlines, claiming that the arrangement would harm consumers.
The agreement would have required the two airlines to cooperate on prices as well as flight schedules.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission determined that the plan would “remove competition” between two carriers that now account for 85 percent of flights between Australia and Japan.
It had previously suggested that rejection was probable, but airlines suffering from pandemic travel delays had hoped in vain for a respite.
“As international travel restarts, the arrangement is likely to result in decreased competition, to the prejudice of travelers flying between Australia and Japan,” the watchdog stated.
To combat the spread of the coronavirus, Australia closed its international borders 18 months ago. Travel between the country’s biggest cities has been interrupted on several occasions over that period, hitting carriers’ bottom lines.
Qantas voiced “disappointment” with the decision, claiming that the agreement would have “ensured a speedier and sustainable recovery from COVID.”
Australia’s borders are scheduled to gradually reopen to vaccinated visitors later this year.
Qantas announced last month that revenue had dropped by Aus$12 billion (US$9 billion) in the previous fiscal year due to a drop in travel.
The firm has received more than a billion dollars in public assistance and has laid off thousands of employees.