Volaris Fined US$300,000 for Violating Tarmac Delay Rule

A Volaris Airbus A320 is marshalling to a parking spot.
NS777, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken to protect airline passengers by fining Volaris Airlines US $300,000.

The fine stems from violations of federal law and the DOT ruling relating to holding passengers on the tarmac.

The department’s rule prohibits airlines from keeping international flight passengers on the tarmac for four hours or more without allowing them to disembark. Volaris must now also cease and desist from similar future violations.

“Airline passengers stranded on the tarmac for extended periods deserve the opportunity to leave the aircraft,” stressed U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“This enforcement action underscores our unwavering commitment to safeguarding consumer rights and holding airlines accountable.”

A Volaris A320neo becomes airborne.
Photo Credit: Airbus. Volaris Airbus A320neo reg D-AUBZ

Extensive Investigation Reveals Tarmac Delay Violations

A comprehensive DOT investigation conducted by the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) uncovered violations of the tarmac delay rule by Volaris.

A tarmac delay occurs when an airplane on the ground is either awaiting takeoff or has just landed and passengers do not have the opportunity to get off the plane.

The investigation found that in separate incidents during 2021 and 2022, Volaris kept passengers on grounded flights for extended periods without allowing them to disembark.

August 17, 2021: Volaris flight 5892

In this instance, a flight from Guadalajara to Dallas Fort Worth was diverted to Houston George Bush, resulting in a tarmac delay of five hours and 32 minutes. This delay impacted 157 passengers.

July 23, 2022: Volaris flight 826

A Volaris flight from Mexico City to Chicago O’Hare was diverted to St. Louis, causing a tarmac delay of four hours and 35 minutes for the 167 passengers on board.

The OACP investigation determined that none of the exceptions to the tarmac delay rule, including those related to safety or security, applied to these flights.

Additionally, Volaris failed to provide passengers on flight 826 with food and water, further violating regulations.

A line-up of Volaris aircraft at dawn.
Rod ajl, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Volaris Airlines is a Mexican low-cost airline headquartered in Santa Fe, Mexico City. Founded in 2005, the airline has grown to serve a network of 68 destinations. It operates flights services throughout Mexico, the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Volaris operates a fleet of modern aircraft and focuses on offering affordable air travel options to its customers.

interior of an airport terminal at sunset.
Photo Credit: Wendy Wei via Pexels

DOT: Stronger Airline Consumer Protections

The Biden-Harris administration has significantly bolstered airline passenger rights. Under their leadership, DOT has:

  • Implemented the most extensive expansion of airline passenger rights in history.
  • Issued the largest fines ever levied against airlines for violations of consumer rights.
  • Facilitated the return of more money to passengers in refunds and reimbursements than ever before.

Last month, DOT enacted two final rules requiring airlines to:

  • Automatically issue cash refunds to passengers when due.
  • Protect consumers from surprise and often-expensive airline fees.

These regulations will significantly strengthen consumer protections in air travel. Passengers will benefit from a simplified refund process and avoid hidden fees, saving them an estimated half a billion dollars annually.

DOT has issued over $164 million in penalties against airlines for consumer protection violations. Between 1996 and 2020, DOT collectively issued less than $71 million in penalties against airlines for consumer protection violations.

The page on tarmac delays can be found here.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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