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Flight Centre boycotted Singapore Airlines
Flight Centre 'boycotted Singapore Airlines'

Flight Centre staff were told to stop selling Singapore Airlines flights after the carrier refused a request to engage in price fixing, a court has heard.

The travel agency is facing allegations of attempted price fixing, in a prosecution by Australia's competition watchdog in the Federal Court in Brisbane.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claims that between 2005 and 2009, Flight Centre tried to persuade Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines and Emirates to stop selling their international airfares directly to customers - including over the internet - at prices less than what Flight Centre offered.

The consumer watchdog said Flight Centre's intention was to maintain its commissions.

On day two of the trial today, Keith Wilson SC, for the ACCC, read part of an internal Flight Centre email to all staff.

It was sent in May 2009, shortly after negotiations between the travel operator and Singapore Airlines had broken down.

The email was headed "Turn the screw on SQ (Singapore Airlines), they don't value you" and declared a "stop sell" of the carrier's tickets.

Staff were directed to sell Singapore Airlines fares only if a customer specifically requested that carrier.

"We need to send the strongest possible message to Singapore Airlines and the industry at large," the email read.

In a 2005 email to Singapore Airlines, the travel operator accused the airline of undercutting its agents and asked it to guarantee it would stop selling tickets at prices less than Flight Centre's fares.

"We need to be more strategic in our control of distribution, so it's important to know Singapore Airline's intentions," the email from a senior Flight Centre executive read.

Mr Wilson said it was an unequivocal message to Singapore Airlines to stop undercutting Flight Centre's prices or suffer the consequences.

"It's a plain case of price fixing," he told the court.

The hearing continues.

The West Australian

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