The US Department of Transportation (DoT) has issued a notice to airlines to give customers refund immediately if flights get cancelled or significantly delayed amid the coronavirus outbreak. The ultimatum from DoT comes after an increasing number of passengers complained that they were not being given refunds if a flight got cancelled or significantly delayed.
This might further make thing difficult for the already cash-strapped airline industry. The airline industry has been going through one of the worst phases following the coronavirus outbreak, as a result of which hundreds of flights are getting cancelled across the world, with many airlines completely grounding their fleet and asking for government aid.
DoT warns airlines
The Department of Transportation said that it has been receiving an increasing number of inquiries and complaints from airline customers asking for refunds. The customers have been complaining that airlines are not refunding money on flight cancellations or subsequent delays amid the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, the airlines are issuing vouchers to use for travel at a later date.
The transportation department said that it could take an enforcement action if an airline denies refund when it "cancels a flight, significantly delays a flight'. However, the department said that keeping in mind the crisis owing to the coronavirus outbreak it will give airlines a chance to become compliant before any further action.
Airlines continue to suffer due to coronavirus
The airline industry has been one of the biggest casualties of the coronavirus pandemic. Every day, hundreds of flights are getting cancelled as governments continue to impose restrictions on travel, with many going for complete lockdowns, following the coronavirus outbreak.
Airline companies since then have been bleeding. Many airlines have axed are even going for layoffs and furloughs, while a number of them are also entirely grounding their fleet. So, much so, that many governments have announced stimulus packages to bail out the ailing airlines. The warning by the Department of Transportation might further build pressure on the airline companies.
Earlier last week, as many as nine Democratic U.S. senators asked the chief executives of 11 major airlines to give customers full cash refunds who cancel flights. However, many troubled carriers are instead offering customers option to book on alternate travel dates.
A couple of days ago, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airline extended the time customers can use their unused travel finds to rebook flights. While airlines are devising methods to put a check on the cash outflow due to cancellation of tickets and flights, customers are desperately seeking refunds as the coronavirus outbreak has completely put everything to a standstill.