The United States government is investigating airlines that delayed or withheld refunds to passengers whose flights were canceled amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, having completed 10 investigations already with at least 10 more to go.
The Department of Transportation plans to take enforcement action with each case, according to Reuters News Service.
“We’ll collaborate with airlines when they’re ready to take steps that are positive and proactive, whether that’s improvements in pay that are helping with hiring or flexibility in customer service,” Buttigieg told Fox News Sunday. “We’re also going to enforce passenger and consumer rights.”
The airlines being investigated were not identified.
The DOT has taken a keen interest in airlines of late, including telling carriers it has the power to compel them to hire more employees to avoid constant delays and cancellations, and warning airlines that they better start seating families with young children together or face a fine.
Airlines for America, the leading trade group for the aviation industry in the U.S., issued a statement saying “We look forward to working with the federal government to identify and resolve shared challenges to minimize disruptions and ensure safe seamless travel.”
If history is any indication, enforcement for not providing timely refunds is going to be costly. Last year, Air Canada was fined $4.5 million to settle a U.S. DOT investigation that thousands of passenger refunds were delayed.
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