ACCC Cahirman Rod Sims. Image: www.smh.com.au

ACCC Cahirman Rod Sims. Image: www.smh.com.au

The Australian competition and Consumer commission is seeking clarification from the big domestic airlines as to why they haven’t passed on a single cent from the repeal of the carbon tax.

Qantas, Virgin Australia and Regional Express were vocal in the media prior to the carbon tax being implemented. They loudly decried the added cost, something which, they warned, would have to be passed on to the consumer in full.

However, since the tax has been repealed there has been no drop in airline prices.

Spokespeople for the airlines have evaded the question by saying they believed their businesses simply absorbed the cost of the carbon tax without raising ticket prices.

The ACCC has countered by saying that since that cost is now no longer there shouldn’t they be passing the benefit onto the consumers anyway?

The courts have the ability to hand out fines of up to $1.1 million for those found breaching the legal requirement to pass on savings from the repeal of the carbon tax.

Rod Sims, the ACCC chairman has sent a round of ‘please explain’ letters to the carriers.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson said the ACCC had “the tools and the teeth” to make sure the airlines played by the rules.

Qantas paid $16 million towards its carbon tax bill last year. It admitted putting a ‘surcharge’ on tickets, while at the same time claiming never to have passed on the costs.

Virgin Australia also announced $47.9 million in carbon tax costs. It says it has complied with all the ACCC’s requests for information and will continue to do so.

Regional Express says it absorbed the carbon tax without raising prices on customers. A spokeswoman for the company said, Regional Express cannot be expected to absorb the carbon tax when it is introduced and then pass something back when the carbon tax is removed.”

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