Lufthansa ordered to pay $775 million in US flight refunds, BA News, BA

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The U.S. Department of Transportation said Monday that three airlines, including German carrier Lufthansa, must pay more than $900 million in passenger refunds as a result of pandemic-related flight cancellations or changes.

The ministry is also investigating $2.5 million in civil penalties against the airlines – Lufthansa, KLM and South African Airways – for “extreme delays” in providing refunds.

“If a flight is canceled or significantly changed, you shouldn’t have to fight with the airline to get their money back,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

“We are using all our tools to improve air travel for everyone,” he added.

Lufthansa was ordered to pay $775 million in restitution, while KLM was ordered to pay $113.3 million and South African Airways $15.2 million.

The civil penalties assessed amounted to $1.1 million each for Lufthansa and KLM, and $300,000 for South African Airways, the Ministry of Transport said.

It added that airlines have returned refunds of more than $900 million. A Lufthansa spokesperson told AFP that the company has long been in contact with the US Transportation Department and that “compared to other airlines, the fine does not deviate from the norm.”

The delay in payments, Lufthansa added, was due to the “historically unique level of refunds during the Covid pandemic.”

According to the Transportation Department, the U.S. flight cancellation rate was below 1.2 percent in 2023, the lowest level in more than a decade, despite record levels of air travel.

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Earlier this year, US authorities issued a rule requiring domestic and foreign airlines to provide immediate automatic refunds when flights are canceled or significantly changed, with consumers rejecting the alternative offered.

  • Published on Jun 4, 2024 12:59 IST

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