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OST-2019-0001 - 2019 Consent Orders

 

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AirGate Aviation, Inc.

Order 2019-2-3
OST-2019-0001 - Violations of 49 USC § 41708 and 14 CFR 241

Issued and Served February 6, 2019

Consent Order

This consent order concerns unauthorized scheduled passenger service as a commuter air carrier by AirGate Aviation, Inc., in violation of 49 USC §§ 41101, 41712, and 41738 and 14 CFR Part 298. It directs AirGate to cease and desist from further violations of these statutory and regulatory provisions and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $50,000.

AirGate is a Florida-based air taxi registered under 14 CFR Part 298. AirGate’s website advertises air-taxi operations between New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Marsh Harbour, Bahamas as a part of its “Bahamas Service.” During 2016 and 2017, AirGate regularly operated more than four flights per week between New Smyrna Beach and Marsh Harbour. At all times relevant to this mater, AirGate did not hold a commuter air carrier authorization from the Department.

In mitigation, AirGate states that it does not publish a written schedule regarding flights nor does it condone any characterization or “marketing” of its flight operations by third parties. With respect to representations by third parties that AirGate operates scheduled service, AirGate contends that it has requested several third parties to correct their websites regarding the nature of the air transportation offered by AirGate.

Further, AirGate states that it’s intent is to negotiate charters with customers prior to arranging any charter flights; however, the timing of its flights is often driven by outside factors such as the opening of Bahamian customs. AirGate states that it does in fact fly charters to locations around the United States and the Caribbean, in addition to Marsh Harbour, but the location of the Marsh Harbour airport is a popular destination due to its proximity to passengers’ ultimate destinations which are otherwise inaccessible by plane.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, AirGate recognizes the concerns expressed by the DOT and the importance of the resolution of these concerns amicably and without unnecessary delay. AirGate states that it intends to pursue commuter air taxi authority, under which its existing practices would be better suited.

By: Blane Workie

http://flyairgate.com


 

Sky Lease I, Inc.

Order 2019-2-2
OST-2019-0001 - Violations of 49 USC § 41708 and 14 CFR 241

Issued and Served February 6, 2019

Consent Order

This consent order concerns reporting delinquencies by Sky Lease I, Inc., that constitute violations of 49 USC § 41708 and the accounting and reporting requirements specified in 14 CFR Part 241. This order directs Sky Lease to cease and desist from future violations, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $45,000.

Sky Lease is a large certificated air carrier and is therefore subject to the reporting requirements of 49 USC § 41708 and 14 CFR Part 241. Sky Lease failed to submit timely and complete traffic and financial reports during reporting periods through 2016. In early 2017, Sky Lease brought itself current with respect to its reporting obligations; however, in 2017 and 2018, the Department discovered additional reporting delinquencies.

Sky Lease states that any violation of the Department's reporting requirements was inadvertent. During the relevant period Sky Lease shifted its operating base from Greensboro, NC to Miami, FL, and DOT reporting matters and correspondence shifted between two departments. Sky Lease has centralized its reporting function and has procedures in place to ensure future, timely, and accurate reporting.

By: Blane Workie

http://www.skyleasecargo.com/


 

American Airlines, Inc.

Order 2019-2-23
OST-2019-0001 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC §§ 41712 and 42301

Issued and Served February 28, 2019

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by American Airlines, Inc. of 14 CFR 259.4 (the Department’s tarmac delay rule), 49 USC § 41712 (prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices), and 49 USC § 42301 (requirement to adhere to a carrier’s tarmac delay contingency plan). American Airlines failed to adhere to the assurances in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays for 10 domestic flights and 3 international flights at various airports throughout the United States. Specifically, the carrier permitted flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours for the domestic flights and more than four hours for the international flights without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane. This order directs American Airlines to cease and desist from future similar violations of Part 259 and sections 41712 and 42301 and assesses American Airlines $1 million in civil penalties.

Although American Airlines had a plan in place to address lengthy tarmac delays, the carrier’s management of its operations at various US airports throughout the United States was such that it did not adequately adhere to its tarmac delay contingency plans. The Enforcement Office conducted an extensive investigation and determined that 13 American Airlines flights violated the Department’s tarmac delay rule (one of which was a violation of the requirement to notify passengers that they have the opportunity to deplane) and warrant enforcement action.

By: Blane Workie

http://www.aa.com/


 

Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Order 2019-2-22
OST-2019-0001 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC §§ 41712 and 42301

Issued and Served February 28, 2019

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Delta Air Lines, Inc. of 14 CFR Part 259 (the Department’s tarmac delay rule), 49 USC § 41712 (the prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices), and 49 USC § 42301 (requirement to adhere to a carrier’s tarmac delay contingency plan). Delta failed to adhere to the assurance in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays for various flights at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on January 29, 2017 and December 8, 2017, and at Kansas City International Airport on February 20, 2018. Specifically, the carrier violated the Department’s tarmac delay rule by failing to adhere to the assurances in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays that the carrier (1) would not allow an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours for domestic flights before providing passengers an opportunity to deplane, and (2) would have sufficient resources to implement its plan. This order directs Delta to cease and desist from future similar violations of Part 259 and sections 41712 and 42301, and assesses the carrier $750,000 in civil penalties.

By: Blane Workie

http://www.delta.com/




Aviajet RD LLC

Order 2019-4-8
OST-2019-0001 - Violations of 49 USC §§ 41301 and 41712

Issued and Served April 9, 2019

Consent Order

This consent order concerns unauthorized foreign air transportation by Aviajet RD LLC in violation of 49 USC §§ 41301 and 41712. This consent order directs Aviajet to cease and desist from future similar violations of 49 USC §§ 41301 and 41712 and assesses the company $20,000 in civil penalties.

According to the Department’s records, Aviajet does not hold economic authority in the form of a foreign air carrier permit or an exemption from the Department necessary for engaging in foreign air transportation. From August to December 2016, Aviajet operated a number of charter flights between various international airports and airports in the United States. Most of these flights were operated between La Isabela International Airport in the Dominican Republic and Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Florida. As a “foreign air carrier,” Aviajet is required to obtain economic authority from the Department in the form of a foreign air carrier permit or an exemption. Aviajet holds neither a permit nor an exemption, and thus holds no economic authority to engage in foreign air transportation. Therefore, it appears that Aviajet engaged in unauthorized operations, in violation of 49 USC § 41301. Such conduct also violates the Department’s prohibition against unfair or deceptive conduct in 49 USC § 41712.

By: Blane Workie


 


Deutsche Lufthansa AG

Order 2019-6-5
OST-2019-0001 - Violation of 14 CFR Part 399 and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served June 4, 2019

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by Deutsche Lufthansa AG of the Department of Transportation’s full fare advertising rule contained in 14 CFR § 399.84(a). These violations constitute unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition in violation of 49 USC § 41712. The Department directs Lufthansa to cease and desist from future violations of 14 CFR § 399.84(a) and 49 USC § 41712 and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $50,000.

In response to a consumer complaint received by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, the Enforcement Office investigated whether Lufthansa was engaging in a practice of improperly collecting taxes that were not due on non-revenue international tickets sold through Lufthansa’s US-facing website. During its investigation, the Enforcement Office found that in November 2016 the carrier became aware that it was improperly collecting a $17.80 tax from passengers booking non-revenue tickets through its US-facing website. Despite becoming aware that it was improperly collecting this tax, Lufthansa continued to collect the $17.80 tax through 2016 and then increased the tax amount collected to $18.00 in 2017. Lufthansa did not implement changes to correct the improper tax collection until November 2017. The Enforcement Office found that, in total, over 6900 consumers were improperly charged a tax on non-revenue international tickets booked through Lufthansa’s US-facing website between June 2016 and November 2017. By improperly displaying and collecting taxes on international non-revenue tickets during the booking process on Lufthansa’s US-facing website, Lufthansa violated 14 CFR § 399.84(a) and 49 USC § 41712.

By: Blane Workie

http://www.lufthansa.com/

 

Japan Airlines

Order 2019-9-5
OST-2019-0001 - Consent Orders

Issued and Served September 12, 2019

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Japan Airlines of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 U.S.C. § 41712. Specifically, JAL failed to adhere to the assurance in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays regarding the timely deplaning of passengers on two flights. This order directs JAL to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 U.S.C. § 41712, and assesses the carrier $300,000 in civil penalties.

By: Blane Workie

http://www.jal.com

 

China Eastern Airlines Corporation, Ltd.

Order 2019-12-7
OST-2019-0001

Issued and Served December 18, 2019

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by China Eastern Airlines Corporation, Ltd. of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712 with respect to a flight that experienced an excessive tarmac delay in 2017. For this flight, the carrier failed to adhere to the assurance in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays that the carrier would not permit an international flight to remain on the tarmac for more than four hours without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane. This order directs China Eastern to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712, and assesses the carrier $247,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that on February 9, 2017, China Eastern flight MU587, traveling from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to JFK, was diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport as a result of difficult weather conditions at JFK. In accordance with China Eastern’s standard operating procedure, the carrier had coordinated in advance with IAD as a potential diversionary point, should a diversion become necessary. Upon landing at IAD, MU587 was delayed on the tarmac in excess of seven hours before passengers had the opportunity to deplane. The aircraft was initially expected to refuel and depart for JFK, but between three and four hours into the delay, the aircraft was informed that its designated terminal at JFK was not accepting flights that had diverted and were repositioning to JFK. Upon re-entering an IAD hardstand, the carrier was unable to reach its ground handler for assistance to deplane passengers. The carrier did not coordinate with IAD, other potential ground handlers, or other airlines for assistance in deplaning passengers prior to the tarmac delay reaching four hours, instead making contact with its originally intended ground handler nearly seven hours into the tarmac delay. The passengers were not fully deplaned until an hour later.

Section 259.4(b)(2) requires carriers to provide assurance in their tarmac delay contingency plans that they will not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac at a US airport for more than four hours on an international flight before allowing passengers to deplane. China Eastern failed to follow through on its contingency plan by permitting MU587 to remain on the tarmac for more than four hours without allowing passengers to deplane. The carrier’s inability to communicate with its ground handler and to provide passengers an opportunity to deplane does not fit within the safety, security, or ATC exceptions to the tarmac delay rule stated in section 259.4(b)(2). Furthermore, the severity of the delay in this case was egregious. Accordingly, China Eastern did not adhere to the terms of its contingency plan and therefore violated 14 CFR 259.4 and 49 USC § 41712 when it failed to provide passengers on flight MU587 an opportunity to deplane before the tarmac delay exceeded four hours.

By: Blane Workie

OST-2019-0144 - Tarmac Delay Rule

 


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