Six airlines will have to pay more than $600 million in refunds to customers who have had their travel plans cancelled or delayed over the last year.
The ruling was made by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). Frontier Airlines which is a Denver-based carrier will pay $222 million in refunds and an additional $2.2 million in fines.
Other airlines that will be forking out big sums include Tap Portugal, Air India, Aeromexico, El Al and Avianca.
“When a flight gets cancelled, passengers seeking refunds should be paid back promptly. Whenever that doesn’t happen, we will act to hold airlines accountable on behalf of American travellers and get passengers their money back. A flight cancellation is frustrating enough and you shouldn’t have to haggle or wait months to get your refund,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Civil penalties .
With the cancellation of flights and the delays largely due to the pandemic and lockdowns, once the pandemic eased up, airlines were caught unawares by the soaring demands from travellers.
Therefore Buttigieg said that airlines really should increase hiring and improve scheduling.
In an interview with with NBC Nightly News Buttigieg said that most airlines had made some improvements but still had a long way to go.
“Often they’ve increased pay for pilots, and I think that’s going to make a big difference. So I’d say we’re definitely in a much better place by the numbers than we were this summer. But I do think as we get ready for Thanksgiving and then the winter holiday travel season, we’re not out of the woods yet. There is a lot of catching up to do in the system as it works its way though some of the profound disruptions that took place during the pandemic. I think we’re on the right track, but there’s more to do.”
William J McGee as senior fellow for aviation and travel at the American Economic Liberties Project told USA Today that, “airlines that brazenly skirt the rules deserve to be fined, but this latest round of enforcement from USDOT comes almost three years too late and leaves out the most egregious U.S offenders.”
Aside from the refunds, DOT is also assessing over $7.25 million in civil penalties against six airlines for the extreme delays in completing the refunds. This brings it up to a total of $8.1 million in civil penalties for 2022 which is the largest amount ever issues by the agency’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection in a single year.
Read More News: