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Airlines Lash Out at Biden-Harris Administration Over DOT Compensation Plans For Delays and Cancellations

Airlines Lash Out at Biden-Harris Administration Over DOT Compensation Plans For Delays and Cancellations

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An airline lobby group has lashed out at plans by the Biden-Harris administration to force airlines to pay passengers compensation and to cover meal and hotel expenses in the event of avoidable flight delays or cancellations.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) blasted the proposed rulemaking from the Department of Transportation, claiming the initiative would lead to higher ticket prices because airlines would simply pass on the costs to consumers.

President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the compensation scheme at a White House press conference earlier this week under the banner of ‘holding airlines accountable’, but the announcement was met with a frosty reception from the airline industry.

The administration has already rolled out a slew of initiatives to enhance consumer protections, including an online dashboard that shows what different airlines already voluntarily offer passengers in the event of a significant delay or cancellation and proposed protections for families to avoid assigned seating fees.

All ten of the largest U.S.-based carriers already offer refreshments or cash vouchers to passengers during extended delays, and nine of them also offer hotel accommodation in the event of an overnight cancellation, IATA said on Tuesday.

The lobby group’s director general, Willie Walsh, fears the DOT’s compensation scheme will simply raise ticket prices and unrealistic expectations among travelers.

“Managing delays and cancellations is very costly for airlines,” Walsh said. “And passengers can take their loyalty to other carriers if they are not satisfied with service levels.”

“The added layer of expense that this regulation will impose will not create a new incentive, but it will have to be recouped –which is likely to have an impact on ticket prices,” the ex-boss of British Airways and European airline group IAG continued.

Casting comparisons with a similar compensation scheme in Europe, IATA claims “punitive regulations” haven’t actually helped to reduce cancellations, while delays have also increased considerably in the time since the legislation was first introduced in 2004.

In fact, Walsh claims that under the DOT’s proposals, most flight delays and cancellations in the U.S. wouldn’t be covered because they are caused by severe weather or other influences outside the control of airlines, such as air traffic control delays.

Further details of the rulemaking aren’t due to be published until this later this year, at which point the airline industry will learn how much they could be expected to pay passengers in the event of a significant and avoidable delay.

In Europe, the so-called EC261 regulations guarantee passengers a cash payout of between €250 and €600 if their flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, depending on the length of the flight.

View Comments (2)
  • Surprise! Democrat policies are just going to end up making traveling even more expensive. Like everything else they touch. Who could have guessed? But we voted for this so I don’t want to hear any complaining. lol

    • The EU has the same laws they are trying to implement in the US and they have the cheapest ticket prices in the world… who could have guessed that the airline industry lobbyists are lying to the public? You’re a moron to believe the airline industry lobbyists are going to tell the truth.

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