The Colombian civil aviation authorities announced a penalty of 1.4 billion Colombian pesos (around US $ 332,500) to 19 airlines, including Avianca, LATAM, Viva Colombia, as well as KLM, Aeromexico, American Airlines, Copa Airlines, and more, after finding out they had abusive practices against their passengers, which included the waiver of users’ rights and lack of solidary responsibility on impacted codeshare flights.
What happened in Colombia?
On Monday, SuperTransporte Colombia released a statement saying that, after a series of 24 investigations, it found that 19 airlines operating in the country (both domestic and international) have abusive provisions in their transportation contracts with their passengers.
SuperTransporte is a government agency responsible for safe-watching air passengers’ rights.
According to the Colombian authorities, some of the abusive practices found in the contracts published by the airlines were:
- They disregarded solidary responsibility in cases where flights are operated under codesharing.
- They reduced the airline’s obligations while operating a flight.
- They impacted the respect for reservations made in due form by passengers.
- They omitted to inform users of changes or new developments in the flight.
- Limited responsibility in the transportation of baggage.
- They impacted the right to obtain reimbursements according to the applicable regulations.
- Restricted the right to obtain compensation in the cases provided by law.
- Did not provide complete, truthful, and suitable information on how passengers could exercise their rights when conflicts arose from the interpretation or execution of the contract.
These investigations led Aerocivil to impose an overall sanction worth 1,478,099,196 Colombian pesos, which is around US $ 334,000.
According to Colombian law, an abusive clause is that which produces “An unjustified imbalance to the detriment of the consumer and those that, under the same conditions, affect the time, manner, or place in which the consumer can exercise his or her rights.”
Between February and March 2021, the SuperTransporte agency reviewed the websites of the airlines operating in the country. It verified the availability of the contracts and ordered the companies to adjust those clauses expressly prohibited by law.
Which airlines were fined?
SuperTransporte launched 24 investigations and found 19 airlines had these abusive practices against their customers. It also freed four airlines of any responsibility, including Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air Canada, Sky Airline, and Delta Air Lines.
The carriers that were fined due to their practices in Colombia are Aeroméxico, Air Europa, Air France, American Airlines, Avianca, Avior, Copa Airlines, EasyFly, GCA Airlines, Iberia, JetBlue, KLM, LATAM, SATENA, Spirit Airlines, Turkish Airlines , United Airlines, Viva Colombia, and Wingo.
There’s one investigation still ongoing against the Canadian operator Air Transat.
These airlines operate around 6,474 weekly flights per week to Colombia.
SuperTransporte announced a penalty of 1.4 billion Colombian pesos against 19 airlines including Avianca. Photo: Getty Images.
About the Colombian aviation recovery
Not everything is bad news for the Colombian aviation industry. In 2022, the airlines operating in and out of this South American nation have already carried 15% more passengers than in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Aerocivil’s latest data, Colombia has had 22.6 million passengers in 2022, versus 19.5 million in the same period in 2019.
What do you think about the fine imposed by Colombian authorities and the abusive practices held by certain airlines? Let us know in the comments below.