Why did the Qantas share price dive 9% in August?

Shares in the national airline ran into some unexpected turbulence in August.

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The Qantas Airways Ltd (ASX: QAN) share price had a month to forget in August.

Though September hasn't started out with a bang, shareholders will be hoping for a stronger performance from the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) airline stock this month.

With the surprise early exit of CEO Alan Joyce yesterday, the company will now be piloted by incoming CEO Vanessa Hudson.

Let's check why the Qantas share price struggled in August.

Why did the ASX 200 airline hit turbulence in August?

Qantas shares closed July trading for $6.53 apiece. When the closing bell rang on 31 August, the company's shares were swapping hands for $5.91 each, down 9.5% over the month.

For some context, the ASX 200 dropped 1.4% in August.

As you can see in the chart above, the Qantas share price fared reasonably well through the first half of the month.

Most of the damage that followed appears to be due to some tarnishing of the trusted Qantas brand.

It certainly wasn't due to the airline's FY 2023 results, reported on 24 August. That saw Qantas announce $19.8 billion in revenue, up 118% from FY 2022. And the company's underlying profit before tax of $2.5 billion was a record-high achievement.

Indeed, the Qantas share price closed up 1% on the day the company reported.

But investors were less enthused by some of the other stories landing in the media.

That included news that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had commenced legal proceedings against Qantas for allegedly selling tickets to more than 8,000 flights which it knew were cancelled.

Potentially spooking investors, ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb indicated the Commission would be seeking fines "in the hundreds of millions, not tens of millions for breaches".

The Qantas share price also got hit with headwinds after the company received negative publicity over its high airfares, which helped fuel its all-time high FY 2023 profits.

Late August saw assistant treasurer Stephen Jones admit the federal government was helping to protect Qantas when it decided to reject the submission from Qatar Airways to double the volume of international flights allowed on the lucrative Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane routes.

That admission didn't sit well with many travellers and officials.

"It's a really bad decision by any standards, particularly when the government is talking about doing a competition review," former ACCC chair Alan Fels said.

Fels added that ticket prices are some 50% higher today than pre-pandemic, but "would come down a lot if Qatar entered".

Qantas share price snapshot

Despite the big fall in August and another 4.5% decline so far in September, the Qantas share price remains up 11% over 12 months.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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