According to officials, the US has ordered Tata Group-owned Air India to pay a staggering $121.5 million in refunds and $1.4 million in fines for significant delays in giving passengers their money back after flights were cancelled or changed, largely during the pandemic.
According to the US Department of Transportation, Air India is one of the six airlines that have agreed to pay back a total of more than $600 million.
Officials stated that the Department of Transportation guideline, which requires airlines to legally return tickets in the event of flight cancellation or change, conflicts with Air India's "refund on request" policy.
Before the national airline was purchased by the Tatas, there were instances where Air India was asked to pay the refund and agreed to pay the penalty.
An official examination revealed that Air India processed more than half of the 1,900 refund complaints submitted to the Department of Transportation for flights that the carrier cancelled or materially modified in more than 100 days.
Information on how long it took Air India to handle refund requests made directly by passengers who filed complaints and asked for refunds was not available to the agency.
Regardless of its claimed return policy, Air India didn't actually issue refunds on schedule. The extraordinary delay in refunds caused consumers to suffer severe harm, according to the US Department of Transportation.
The other airlines that received fines in addition to Air India are Frontier, TAP Portugal, AeroMexico, EI AI, and Avianca.
According to the Department of Transportation, Air India was mandated to pay $121.5 million in reimbursements to its customers as well as a fine of $1.4 million.
A $222 million refund and a $2.2 million fine were imposed on Frontier. TAP Portugal will pay $126.5 million in refunds and a fine of $1.1 million, followed by payments from Avianca ($76.8 million in refunds and a fine of $750,000), EI AI ($61.9 million in refunds and a fine of $900,000), and AeroMexico ($13.6 million in refunds and a fine of $900,00). The Department of Transportation said that it is charging civil penalties of more than $7.25 million against these six airlines for their significant delays in giving refunds, in addition to the more than $600 million in refunds that the airlines have already paid.
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