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US State Department Orders Airlines to Offer Refunds

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The United States Transportation Department announced Friday it has issued an order to airlines to refund tickets for canceled or significantly altered flights.

According to coronavirus-usa-airlines/u-s-warns-airlines-to-quickly-refund-tickets-after-canceled-flights-idUSKBN21L2NK” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>Reuters.com, Transportation Department officials said the “longstanding obligation of carriers to provide refunds for flights that carriers cancel or significantly delay does not cease when the flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control.”

Carriers in the U.S. and across the world have canceled thousands of flights each day and many have been forced to ground large portions of their fleets as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this week, politicians in Washington asked the CEOs of top airlines in the U.S. to issue full cash refunds to customers who cancel their flights after receiving a rising number of complaints from travelers.

While the federal government has not taken any immediate action against airlines, officials said they would step in if carriers don’t take the opportunity to become compliant, including updating refund policies and contacting eligible passengers in a timely manner.

On Friday, Delta Air Lines announced it is extending the ability for customers to plan and rebook for up to two years, secure the value of their tickets and ensure they’re redeemable for a longer period.

Customers may be concerned about refunds, but airlines continue to step up to help their local communities in the wake of the viral outbreak. For example, United is providing free roundtrip flights for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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Airline News

New United CEO Scott Kirby Comes Out Firing

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United Airlines’ Scott Kirby, who took over as CEO last week in the wake of Oscar Munoz’s retirement, is wasting no time establishing his authority.

Kirby cut 13 high-level executives in a cash-saving move on Friday as the coronavirus pandemic has throttled the industry financially. A day earlier, he told an online investor conference that the airline absolutely would not declare bankruptcy, and that he thought flying was safe enough to not block the middle seats on planes from being sold.

Well, he did build a reputation as an open – some might say abrasive – executive while at American Airlines.

Kirby is eliminating 13 of United’s 67 officer positions, all effective on Oct. 1. That’s the day after the restrictions on firing employees runs out per the federal government’s rules for airlines accepting billions of dollars in stimulus package grants and loans.

“While there are glimmers of good news in our July schedule — we expect to be down about 75% versus 90% right now — travel demand is still a very long way from where it was at the end of last year and the financial impact on our business remains severe,” United said in a written statement as reported by CNBC.

The cuts are in response to the loss of nearly 90 percent of business for United and all airlines, as the demand for travel has dropped dramatically compared to last year and beyond.

But Kirby defiantly said during the investor conference a day before that he has no plans for the airline to go bankrupt.

“Zero percent, no chance,” Kirby said. “It’s worse for shareholders. It’s worse for creditors. It’s worse for employees. It’s worse for every constituent that we have.”

To that end, Kirby also said he won’t sacrifice potential sales by blocking middle seats, as some airlines have done. As the blog The Points Guy noted, Kirby said the airline’s cleaning process, air circulation and a requirement for passengers and crew to wear face masks make it a safe experience.

“Airplanes don’t have social distancing — we’re not going to be six feet apart,” he said. “But an airplane environment is incredibly safe.”

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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