by Donald Wood
Last updated: 8:35 AM ET, Tue November 15, 2022
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that six airlines would be forced to pay penalties totaling $7.25 million and issue $622 million in passenger refunds.
According to Reuters.com, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg revealed on Monday that Frontier Airlines would be required to pay $222 million in refunds and a $2.2 million penalty, while Air India will pay $121.5 million in refunds and a $1.4 million fine.
As for other impacted carriers, Colombia's Avianca will pay $76.8 million in refunds and a $750,000 penalty, El Al Israel Airlines will pay $61.9 million in refunds and a $900,000 penalty, and Aeromexico will pay $13.6 million in refunds and a $900,000 fine.
"When a flight gets canceled, passengers seeking refunds should be paid back promptly," Buttigieg said. "Whenever that doesn't happen, we will act to hold airlines accountable on behalf of American travelers and get passengers their money back. A flight cancellation is frustrating enough, and you shouldn't also have to haggle or wait months to get your refund."
The impacted airlines were credited for payments made on nonrefundable tickets, including Frontier receiving a $1.2 million credit, TAP Portugal receiving $550,000, El Al receiving $450,000 and Avianca receiving $375,000.
The USDOT said that many of the refunds involved in the investigation were a result of delayed or canceled flights during the pandemic. Officials said they are also conducting investigations into other airlines.
"But I do think as we get ready for the Thanksgiving and then the winter holiday travel season, we're not out of the woods yet," Buttigieg continued. "There is a lot of catching up to do in the system as it works its way through some of the profound disruptions that took place during the pandemic."
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