Higgins & Hochul Applaud DOT for Issuing Penalties

October 3, 2012 Updated Oct 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM EDT

By WKBW News


Higgins & Hochul Applaud DOT for Issuing Penalties

October 3, 2012 Updated Oct 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM EDT

WNY (WKBW/Release) - Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) and Congresswoman Kathy Hochul (NY-26) commended the Department of Transportation (DOT) upon learning that Xtra Airways, a carrier operating flights for Direct Air, has been fined $300,000 in response to flight cancellations resulting from Direct Air's sudden closure.

"The abrupt cancellation of Direct Air flights caused serious problems and inconvenience for many Western New York families around Spring Break and the Easter holiday," said Congressman Higgins.

"Passengers deserve far better than the treatment received from Direct Air as this situation was unfolding and, while nothing short of full refunds from the company is completely adequate, I am pleased to see that the Department of Transportation has identified a violation of the rules and acted accordingly."

"Western New Yorkers who purchased flights to spend the Easter holiday with their families were put through undue hardship and financial burden after the sudden closure of Direct Air this past March," said Rep. Hochul.

"The fines imposed by the DOT are designed to protect consumers and deter further violations. It is critical that Western New Yorkers and all air carrier passengers have the assurance that they will not be stranded or subject to unwarranted last minute cancellations."

Xtra Airways' penalties result from violations to rules put in place to protect passengers when public charter flights are unexpectedly cancelled. Another carrier, World Atlantic Airlines, was also fined $180,000 related to the Direct Air shutdown.

In March of this year, Direct Air abruptly cancelled flights out of Niagara Falls, NY and indefinitely suspended all operations. Higgins and Hochul wrote to Direct Air calling on them to refund passengers for their cancelled flights and compensate passengers for fees associated with alternate arrangements.

In April, the Congressmembers wrote to DOT Secretary LaHood asking for an investigation into Direct Air's closure.