The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today assessed a civil penalty against Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) for violating rules protecting air travelers with disabilities. The carrier was assessed a $200,000 civil penalty of which up to $75,000 may be used to improve its service to disabled passengers above levels required by DOT rules.
“Passengers with disabilities have rights and they have a right to be treated fairly and with respect by the airlines,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will continue to take enforcement action when our disability rules are violated.”
The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities in boarding and deplaning aircraft, including the use of wheelchairs, ramps, mechanical lifts or service personnel where needed.
During June 2010, the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office conducted a review and inspection at ASA’s Atlanta offices and airport operations of the carrier’s compliance with Department consumer protection requirements. The Enforcement Office reviewed, among other things, disability-related complaints received by the carrier from January 2009 through May 2010. That review revealed a number of violations of the rules requiring assistance to passengers with disabilities who use wheelchairs.
Of the $200,000 penalty, up to $35,000 may be used to relocate passenger lifts that have been acquired by ASA to airports that the carrier serves in order to supplement and improve enplaning and deplaning services. Up to $40,000 may be used by the carrier to conduct audits and surveys to ensure that its employees are complying with the airline disability rules.