U.S. Fines LATAM Airlines $1 Mln over Delayed Ticket Refunds

The U.S. Transportation Department (USDOT) said on Monday it fined LATAM Airlines Group SA $1 million after the airline and affiliates routinely failed to provide timely refunds to passengers for U.S. flights, Reuters reported. The department said since March 2020, it received more than 750 complaints alleging LATAM, the biggest carrier in Latin America, failed to provide timely refunds after canceling flights to or from the U.S. USDOT said it took LATAM more than 100 days to process thousands of refund requests to payment. LATAM said in a statement it agreed to the $1 million fine as part of a consent order. It added that the fine was "part of an ongoing USDOT audit of numerous airlines that operate into or within the U.S. that have been fined for the same reason, delays in refunds for unused tickets on flights canceled during the pandemic." LATAM invested $2 million in a new digital platform to process refunds faster and is investing another $2 million this year on refund processing efforts. Because of COVID-19, LATAM had to cancel more than 1,100 flights daily and saw refund requests quadrupled, the airline told USDOT noting it filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and radically downsized the company, resulting in layoffs of thousands of employees. Read more.