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OST-2020-0001 - 2020 Consent Orders

 

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Aviation Consumer Protection - Increased Transparency Could Help Build Confidence in DOT's Enforcement Approach - GAO Report - October 13, 2020

 


Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Order 2020-1-9
OST-2020-0001 - Violations of 49 USC §§ 40127(a) and 41310

Issued and Served January 24, 2020

Consent Order

This order concerns violations by Delta Air Lines, Inc. of Federal statutes prohibiting US and foreign air carriers from subjecting any air traveler to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry. The order directs Delta to cease and desist from future similar violations, assesses the carrier $50,000 in civil penalties, mandates civil rights training to certain Delta flight and cabin crews and customer service representatives, and requires the carrier to enhance its e-training civil rights program.

Delta disagrees with the Department’s contention that it engaged in discriminatory conduct. While Delta does not dispute that each of these two incidents could have been handled differently, Delta asserts that this fact does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Delta acted improperly. In the case of Mr. and Mrs. X, Delta notes that another customer, who identified herself as a retired Federal Aviation Administration safety inspector, reported what she considered to be suspicious conduct. That individual went so far as to provide a signed statement, including her contact information. As for Mr. A, Delta flight attendants did observe him switch seats while onboard and behave nervously. In short, in both cases, Delta maintains that it acted on observations of behavior, rather than identity.

The Enforcement Office views seriously Delta’s violations of 49 USC §§ 40127(a) and 41310. Accordingly, after considering carefully all the facts in this case, including those set forth above, the Enforcement Office believes that enforcement action is warranted. In order to avoid litigation, and without admitting or denying the violations described above, Delta consents to the issuance of this order to cease and desist from future violation of 49 USC §§ 40127(a) and 41310, and to the assessment of $50,000 in compromise of potential civil penalties otherwise due and payable pursuant to 49 USC § 46301.

By: Blane Workie

http://www.delta.com/


 

Compania Panamena de Aviacion, S.A.

Order 2020-6-9
OST-2020-0001 - Violations of 49 USC 41301

Issued and Served June 17, 2020

Consent Order

This consent order concerns unauthorized foreign air transportation by Compañía Panameña de Aviación, S.A. in violation of 49 USC § 41301. This order directs Copa to cease and desist from future similar violations of section 41301, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $450,000.

As a result of DOT Order 2019-5-5, Copa does not have economic authority from the Department to provide foreign air transportation between the United States and Venezuela. An investigation by the Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (The Office of Aviation Consumer Protection was formerly known as the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings), however, revealed that between May 15, 2019, and June 11, 2019, Copa offered for sale itineraries between the United States and Venezuela in contravention of DOT Order 2019-5-5. Copa sold over 5000 tickets for such itineraries during that time frame, either through its own website or through those of third party agents. In addition, Copa transported over 15,000 passengers on US-Venezuela itineraries between May 15 and June 11. In light of the foregoing, Copa held out and operated foreign air transportation between the United States and Venezuela without the economic authority to do so. Copa therefore violated 49 USC § 41301.

By: Blane Workie

https://www.copaair.com


 

Spirit Airlines, Inc.

Order 2020-6-5
OST-2020-0001 - Violations of 49 USC §§ 41708 and 41712 and 14 CFR Part 250

Issued and Served June 19, 2020

Consent Order

This order concerns the failure of Spirit Airlines, Inc. to comply with the Department’s oversales rule, 14 CFR Part 250. This order also concerns Spirit’s policy that resulted in the misclassification and misreporting of certain passengers who were involuntarily denied boarding as volunteers, and the failure to properly calculate and report data related to oversales in violation of 14 CFR 250.10. Violations of the reporting requirement under section 250.10 constitute violations of 49 USC § 41708. Violations of Part 250 and 49 USC § 41708 also violate the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition, 49 USC § 41712. This order directs Spirit to cease and desist from future violations of 49 USC§§ 41708 and 41712 and 14 CFR Part 250, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $350,000.

At the time of the denied boarding, Spirit agents would input information into an internal database for each passenger denied boarding. If a passenger selected the FTV, Spirit would categorize that passenger as a “volunteer” in its database. If a passenger selected the cash compensation, Spirit would categorize these passengers as having been denied boarding involuntarily in its database. Spirit would then use its internal database to complete Form 251. We found that passengers overwhelmingly selected FTVs and were subsequently miscategorized as “volunteers."

In 2017, Spirit self-reported to the Department that, for nine consecutive quarters between 2015 and 2017, it submitted Form 251 with incorrect data. Specifically, Spirit disclosed it had been misreporting data on its Form 251 submissions by using only domestic to domestic enplanements, when all enplanements departing a domestic location should have been included; and reporting the total number of passengers denied boarding involuntarily as only those who qualified for denied boarding compensation while excluding those who did not qualify for denied boarding compensation.9 In February 2018, it was determined that Spirit violated 14 CFR 250.10 and 49 USC §§ 41708 and 41712 for the reporting errors in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Spirit was warned for these violations and was put on notice that any further failures to file accurate data on Form 251 may result in enforcement action without further warning, and such action may also cover the outlined deficiencies. We have determined that because Spirit again failed to report accurate data on Form 251 for the first and second quarters of 2018, enforcement action is warranted for the previously-identified reporting violations.

Spirit’s failure to file accurate reports with the Department resulted in the publication of numerous ATCRs with information that deceptively and incorrectly lowered Spirit’s rate of involuntary denied boarding. Spirit’s failures to file correct data, and its subsequent refiling of corrected information, has caused the Department to revise and edit several ATCRs. Moreover, Spirit’s inaccurate reporting has deprived the traveling public of useful data for determining which carrier has the highest rate of denied boardings.

By: Blane Workie

DOT Fines Spirit Airlines for Violating DOT's Oversales (Bumping) Rules - DOT Press Release

https://www.spirit.com/


 


Concesionaria Vuela Compania de Aviacion, S.A.P.I. de C.V.

Order 2020-7-3
OST-2020-0001 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served July 10, 2020

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Concesionaria Vuela Compañía de Aviación, S.A.P.I. de C.V. d/b/a Volaris of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712. Specifically, Volaris failed to adhere to the assurances in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays regarding the deplaning of passengers and provision of adequate food. This order directs Volaris to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712, and assesses the carrier $70,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the OACP revealed that on September 13, 2017, Volaris Flight 881, carrying 92 passengers from JFK to Mexico City International Airport, experienced a tarmac delay of over four hours prior to departure from JFK. After leaving the gate, the Captain of Flight 881 requested and received permission to taxi to a remote hardstand in order to refuel prior to departure. Pursuant to its internal safety rules, Volaris opened the aircraft door and attached mobile stairs to the aircraft while it was parked and being refueled. Passengers on Flight 881 were not provided an opportunity to deplane during the entirety of the delay because Volaris believed the flight would depart within four hours. When Flight 881 eventually departed from JFK, passengers had been on board the aircraft without an opportunity to deplane for four hours and 21 minutes. In addition, Volaris did not provide food to passengers on Flight 881 during the entirety of the tarmac delay.

Volaris 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 board Flight 881 an opportunity to deplane before the tarmac delay exceeded four hours and when it failed to provide adequate food to passengers on board Flight 881 during the tarmac delay.

By: Blane Workie

http://www.volaris.com.mx/


 

Emirates

Order 2020-9-29
OST-2020-0001 - Violations of 49 USC § 41301

Issued and Served October 1, 2020

Consent Order

This consent order concerns unauthorized foreign air transportation by Emirates in violation of 49 USC § 41301. This order directs Emirates to cease and desist from future similar violations of section 41301, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $400,000.

On June 21, 2019, the FAA issued NOTAM KICZ A0019/19, prohibiting all persons described in paragraph A of the NOTAM from conducting flight operations in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region above the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region that present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations and carry the potential for miscalculation or misidentification. In connection with the Department’s rules and the condition imposed on Emirates’ foreign air carrier permit and the statement of authorization for a codeshare arrangement with JetBlue, as described above, the prohibitions in NOTAM KICZ A0019/19 extended to Emirates flights carrying the B6 code.

An investigation by the Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection revealed that between July 1, 2019, and July 19, 2019, Emirates operated flights carrying the B6 code in the area affected by NOTAM KICZ A0019/19. By operating flights carrying the B6 code in airspace in which the FAA prohibits US operators and airmen from flying, Emirates operated in violation of the conditions of its statement of authorization. As a result, Emirates violated 49 USC § 41301.

By: Blane Workie

https://www.emirates.com/

 


 

Aerolineas Argentinas

Order 2020-12-2
OST-2020-0001 - Violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712

Issued and Served December 4, 2020

Consent Order

This consent order concerns violations by Aerolíneas Argentinas of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712. Specifically, Aerolíneas Argentinas failed to adhere to the assurance in its contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays regarding the deplaning of passengers. This order directs Aerolíneas Argentinas to cease and desist from future similar violations of 14 CFR Part 259 and 49 USC § 41712, and assesses the carrier $300,000 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the OACP revealed that on February 9, 2017, Aerolíneas Argentinas Flight 1300, scheduled from Ministro Pistarini International Airport to JFK, diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport as a result of a weather-related closure at JFK.

Flight 1300 arrived at IAD at 12:50 p.m. and parked at a remote stand, intending to depart for JFK after JFK’s planned reopening. Less than two hours into the delay, Flight 1300 was advised that JFK had reopened. For the next two hours, the aircraft remained on the tarmac at IAD, and it appears that the airline chose not to provide an opportunity for passengers to deplane during that time. Nearly four hours into the delay, weather conditions changed at IAD, and de-icing procedures became required for all carriers. The flight began the process of de-icing four hours and three minutes into the delay, at which time IAD Airport Operations advised the flight that it had reached its four-hour tarmac delay limit and that mobile lounges were available for deplaning passengers. The carrier responded that it was aware that the four-hour time limit had lapsed and that it had chosen to depart for JFK instead of deplaning passengers. Flight 1300 then departed IAD at 5:36 p.m., resulting in a total tarmac delay time of four hours and forty-six minutes.

The carrier chose not to deplane passengers prior to initiating the de-icing process, despite having nearly four hours (from the time the flight landed to the time when de-icing procedures became required) in order to do so. The carrier’s decision not to provide passengers on Flight 1300 an opportunity to deplane resulted in its failure to adhere to the assurances in its tarmac delay contingency plan. As a result, Aerolíneas Argentinas violated 14 CFR 259.4(b)(2) and 49 USC § 41712.

By: Blane Workie

http://www.aerolineas.com.ar/

 

 

 


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