Air Transat Consent Order 2023-7-10
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (Department or DOT) Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) has determined that Air Transat A.T. Inc. (Air Transat) routinely failed to provide timely refunds to passengers for flights to and from the United States that the carrier cancelled in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 41712 (Section 41712) and 14 CFR Part 259. Since March 2020, the Department has received more than 150 complaints alleging that Air Transat failed to provide refunds after cancelling flights1. Air Transat did not provide data on the total number of refund requests that it received or the length of time it took to process all these requests. However, Air Transat acknowledged that, from March 18, 2020 to November 30, 2020, it provided credits, instead of refunds, to many consumers holding non-refundable tickets for flights to or from the United States that the carrier cancelled and that it was not until April 29, 2021 that it permitted all consumers who still held credits for carrier-cancelled flights to exchange them for refunds. Our investigation revealed that several thousand Air Transat consumers, mostly for flights that were cancelled before December 1, 2020, still had credits that were eligible to be refunded on April 29, 2021. Given these facts, OACP is of the view that Air Transat subjected thousands of consumers to extreme delay in making refunds available for flights to and from the United States that the carrier cancelled. Additionally, it appears that Air Transat failed to respond to consumer complaints in a timely manner, also in violation of Section 41712 and 14 CFR Part 259. This order directs Air Transat to cease and desist from future similar violations of 49 U.S.C. § 41712 and 14 CFR Part 259 and assesses the carrier $525,000 in civil penalties.