news & views

I Won't Tell If You Don't

Posted on the 6th of August 2007 by Christopher Goddard, Managing Director

Would you happen to have a spare $635 million lying around – I need to pay a couple of fines.

Can you just imagine the conversation that was going around the British Airways board room last week? Reverberations and after-shocks are now filtering through to airline executive offices worldwide. That dirty, dirty word – collusion has now entered the industry vernacular.

Protestation after protestation is now being shouted from airline roof tops – don’t look at us we would never do such a thing. We would never treat our customers with such disdain. Once you head down that path you suddenly realise you are on a one-way street and there is no turning back!

We have to fill up our motor vehicle tanks every week and for some bizarre reason just seem to accept that prices can increase 15% overnight. Are we trapped in this strange  “what will be will be” stage play where we are the eternal under-study hoping that the lead player will break his or her leg so that we get our chance in the limelight? Or – are we content to be out of view and don’t want the attention on us? Well based on the way airlines treat us with their fuel surcharges and oil companies with the petrol prices – you would have to say the latter.

Remember that saying that we have in Australia – you are a dobber? Well I say, good on you Virgin Atlantic – well done for being a dobber!. I am sure that revenge played a major factor in Virgin Atlantic reporting the British Airways antics to the relevant authorities, but what is disappointing is that they only did it on the basis that they received immunity from prosecution for doing so. What this says is – yeah we know it is wrong but he made me do it? And now Qantas comes to the table advising that they believe there has been some anti-competitive behaviour but only in their freight and cargo department not in passenger sales. Forgive us if we seem a little skeptical!

Authorities are extremely vocal in letting us know that participants of anti-competitive business dealings will be prosecuted to the absolute maximum of the law and you would have to say that $635 million is not small change, but in the multi billion dollar world of airlines, it is the proverbial drop in the ocean. It boggles the mind to think that if they cover off this amount of money in penalties, how much did they actually make in the business dealing itself. And who paid for it. You guessed it – US!

Well people, I say no longer are we to be the understudy. No longer are we to wait in the wings hoping that the lead takes a stumble. We grab hold of this opportunity with both hands and let these companies know that we no longer will suffer their arrogance and disrespect of our hard earned cash. These airlines need to be made accountable for their actions and whilst in their money making minds they believe their ultimate loyalties lay with their share-holders it is high time they realised that if you keep hitting a dog sooner or later it will turn around and bite you hard.

They had better toughen their skin because the dog is starting to growl.