The US ordered Israel’s national air carrier, El Al, to refund passengers $61.9 million for flights that were cancelled or substantially delayed during the coronavirus pandemic, the US Department of Transportation announced on Monday.
El Al will also pay a $900,000 penalty for the delayed refunds.
Five other airlines, Frontier, Aeromexico, Air India, TAP Portugaland Avianca were also hit with similar fines and penalties.
“It shouldn’t take an enforcement action from the U.S. Department of Transportation to get airlines to pay refunds that they’re required to pay,” said Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
The six carriers will pay a combined $600 million in refunds and penalties.
An El Al statement to Passport News said that “El Al returned the customers their money,” and following “a long conversation” with US authorities, would pay a “symbolic fine.”
The statement also said that expediting refund payments during the pandemic was further complicated by “the dragging out of discussions to receive government aid.” Facing bankruptcy during the pandemic, El Al received a $400 million goverment bailout in 2020.