Tap Air Portugal and four other foreign airlines will have to reimburse more than €580 million to passengers whose journeys were cancelled or significantly delay since the start of the pandemic.
Tap Air Portugal will have to reimburse more than €122 million to passengers and pay a fine of €1 million for cancelled trips in the United States, US federal authorities announced.
According to the information released, Tap Air Portugal and four other foreign airlines will have to reimburse more than €580 million to passengers whose journeys were cancelled or significantly delayed since the start of the pandemic.
The US Department of Transportation also fined the airlines more than €6.7 million for delaying refunds too long, in violation of consumer protection rules.
The largest US airlines, which account for the bulk of refund complaints, have avoided fines and a federal authorities source said no other US carriers are being investigated for possible fines.
Consumers flooded the agency with thousands of complaints about not getting refunds when airlines cancelled a large number of flights after the pandemic hit the United States in early 2020. This was by far the top category of complaints.
“When Americans buy a ticket on an airline, they expect to get to their destination safely, reliably and cost-effectively, and our job is to hold airlines accountable to those expectations,” said transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg.
According to this department, Frontier Airlines is liable for €215 million in refunds and has to pay a fine of €2.1 million.
Air India will pay €117.7 million in refunds and a fine of €1.3 million, Aeromexico €13.1 million and a fine of €872,000, Israel’s El Al will pay €59.9 million and a fine of €872,000 and Colombia’s Avianca €74.4 million in refunds and more than €726,000 in fines, the Transport Department said.
“We have further enforcement actions and investigations underway and there may be further news on the fines,” Pete Buttigieg told reporters.
However, there will be no fines for other US airlines because they responded “shortly after” the Department of Transportation alerted them in April 2020 to the obligation to be prompt in refunds, noted Blane Workie of the Department of Transportation’s aviation consumer protection.
In 2020, United Airlines had the highest number of refund complaints – more than 10,000. Air Canada, El Al and TAP Air Portugal were next on the list, all with more than 5,000, followed by American Airlines and Frontier, both with more than 4,000 complaints.