A world-first class action that has changed the way international airlines pay commission to Australian travel agents has been finalised today, with the Federal Court approving a settlement with carrier Air New Zealand.

The class action was commenced in 2006 by Slater and Gordon on behalf of travel agents seeking to recover commission on fuel surcharges imposed by airlines on international airfares.

In one of Australia’s longest running class actions, judgment or settlements have been secured involving Qantas, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand.

Senior litigation lawyer Steven Lewis, from Slater and Gordon, who successfully ran the class action, said the industry in Australia had been changed as a result.

“This class action was the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Travel agents successfully argued that airlines were contractually bound to pay commission based on the actual cost of the ticket to the consumer, including the fuel charge component,” Mr Lewis said.

“As a result of this action, we have recovered commission for hundreds of small businesses across Australia.

“Importantly, the case has changed the way international airlines pay commission to all Australian travel agents, whether they were involved in the action or not.

“Travel agents now receive a commission on the fuel surcharge."

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