The US Department of Transportation announced that it has fined the Chile-based LATAM Airlines for USD one million over delayed ticket refunds to passengers on cancelled flights to and from America.The Department’s move on Monday came after it received more than 750 complaints since the beginning of March 2020, alleging that the airline — the biggest carrier in Latin America — has not provided timely refunds to passengers that have had their flights cancelled, according to a website report.
In a statement, the Department said that it took the airline more than 100 days to process thousands of refund requests for the cancelled flights.
In response, LATAM Airlines said it has agreed to pay the penalty and added that the carrier “always acted in good faith, and that it believes a large penalty is inappropriate given the dire circumstances facing LATAM during the pandemic”.
According to the sources, the airline was forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights per day at its peak.
During Covid, the number of refund requests quadrupled, which led to the airline issuing more than USD 62 million in refunds to US-bound passengers since the outbreak in early 2020.
As a result of the cancelled flights and forced refunds, the carrier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and laid off thousands of employees.
Monday’s development is part of the Department’s decision announced in January this year that it would begin seeking larger penalties against airlines that violate consumer protection rules.
These laws were made to protect consumers from fraudulent business practices, defective products, and dangerous goods or services.