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Thu, Mar 27, 2003

DoT, US Airways Reach Settlement

At Issue: Treatment of Passengers With Disabilities 

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the issuance of an order reflecting a settlement with US Airways regarding the carrier’s treatment of air travelers with disabilities. The order finds that the carrier has violated the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and federal regulations regarding wheelchair service required to be provided to disabled air travelers. It also assesses the bankrupt airline a civil penalty of $550,000 for these violations.   

According to the terms of the settlement, US Airways is ordered to cease and desist from future violations of the ACAA and DOT’s rules prohibiting discrimination against passengers with disabilities. The settlement allows US Airways to use $400,000 of the penalty toward specified activities to improve the carrier’s services to persons with disabilities. The remaining $150,000 will be treated as an unsecured claim in the carrier’s current bankruptcy proceeding.

The department’s Aviation Enforcement Office launched an investigation of US Airways’ compliance with the ACAA’s requirements regarding wheelchair service based on complaints received by the department. The Aviation Enforcement Office’s review of the complaints received by DOT, as well as by the carrier, revealed a significant number of apparent violations by US Airways, including instances of prolonged delays in obtaining wheelchairs, and passengers' being left alone in wheelchairs or aboard aircraft for extended periods of time. In addition, the office found that US Airways failed to comply with the requirement for providing a proper written response to complainants in a number of instances.

FMI: http://dms.dot.gov (docket OST-2003-14194)

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