Lufthansa to Pay $775 Million for COVID-Related Flight Cancellations


The US Department of Transportation (DoT) has secured nearly a billion dollars in refunds for passengers from three major airlines, primarily the German Lufthansa group, due to flight cancellations and significant modifications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lufthansa has agreed to refund $775 million to passengers and pay a $1.1 million fine. Additionally, Dutch airline KLM will refund $113.3 million and pay a $1.1 million fine, while South African Airways will refund $15.2 million and pay a $300,000 fine.

A Lufthansa spokesperson told Agence France-Presse that all due payments have been made and attributed the delay, which led to the fine, to the unprecedented volume of compensation required during the pandemic. The spokesperson noted that the fine amount is standard for such delays.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasised the department's commitment to protecting passengers' rights, stating, "When a flight is cancelled or heavily modified, you won't have to fight the airline to get your money back."

The DoT also announced on April 24 that stricter regulations on refunds and compensation for passengers in the US are now in effect. These regulations require automatic refunds and clearly define what constitutes a "significant change" in flight plans, including changes in arrival or departure times, different airports, additional stopovers, and seat downgrades.

In 2023, the flight cancellation rate in the US was less than 1.2%, the lowest in over a decade, despite a record number of scheduled flights.

(Source: Amna)

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