Arizona Requested Greater Airline Accountability Ahead of This Latest Mass Failure

Arizona Requested Greater Airline Accountability Ahead of This Latest Mass Failure

By Corinne Murdock |

Wednesday’s grounding of thousands of planes due to airlines’ massive management failures proved Arizona’s call for increasing federal oversight a prescient petition. Flights nationwide were grounded due to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) computer outages.

Arizona and 29 states asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to require airlines to provide meaningful relief for flight cancellations and delays. The petition occurred a little over a week before yet another sweeping airline catastrophe that occurred last month, resulting in historic highs of major issues like flight cancellations, stranded flyers, and lost baggage.

In a letter, former Attorney General Mark Brnovich advised DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg that the proposed rulemaking to address flight cancellations and delays should be strengthened.

The DOT issued the proposed “Airline Ticket Refunds and Rule Protections” in August. The rule would make it unlawful for an airline to refuse to refund passengers for canceled or significantly modified flights. However, the attorneys general said the DOT’s allowance for a three-hour delay would enable airlines to loosen their standards at the expense of travelers.

The attorneys also suggested that airlines be required to advertise and sell only the flights they have adequate personnel to fly and support. Further, they suggested regular audits and fines for compliance. 

The DOT’s proposed rule would require airlines to provide non-expiring travel vouchers or credits for those with non-refundable tickets facing a flight itinerary change after so many hours or those unable to travel due to “serious communicable disease.” The attorneys suggested that airlines be required to not only provide a full refund but offer a partial refund in the event that passengers choose to accept an airline’s alternative flight.

The attorneys general also suggested that airlines be prohibited from canceling and then upselling alternative flights to the same destinations. They further suggested that airlines be required to provide additional compensation for delays or cancellations, such as food, lodging, and transport. 

Brnovich also advised the DOT to create a framework ensuring timely and prompt communication with attorneys general. The bipartisan coalition joining Brnovich previously petitioned the DOT in late August for the same remedy, but experienced delays and an absence of any collaboration or communication.

Brnovich co-led the effort signed on by the attorneys general for the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands, as well as Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

“It’s time for them to be held to similar consumer protection standards as other service industries,” stated Brnovich. 

Brnovich has led a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in advocating for more stringent rules for airlines since the pandemic began. In 2020, Brnovich urged Congress to implement greater consumer protections such as full refunds for travelers who voluntarily canceled flights due to COVID-19, elimination of delays and expirations in refunds for flight cancellations, and the ability for state attorneys general to enforce federal airline consumer protection laws. These petitions have gone unfulfilled.

In 2021, Brnovich filed an antitrust lawsuit against American Airlines and JetBlue Airlines over their Northeast Alliance Agreement. Brnovich noted that past significant mergers of other airlines resulted in reduced quality of services, job losses, and higher ticket prices. The case, United States of America v. American Airlines Group, is ongoing in the Massachusetts District Court before Judge Leo Sorokin. 

Currently, passengers are entitled to receive a refund or compensation if they’re involuntarily taken off an oversold flight, moved to a lower class of service than entitled to the difference in fares, unable to use in-flight services they paid for, or subjected to lost or damaged baggage.

Airlines may, but aren’t required to, compensate passengers facing long delays. 

In November, the DOT issued over $600 million in penalties to six airlines for delaying refunds for canceled flights. Most were international. Among those penalized were Frontier Airlines, Air India, TAP Portugal, Aeromexico, El Al, and Avianca. 

The DOT offers travelers a portal where they may file a consumer complaint, a dashboard to report on specific carriers’ customer service, as well as a guide on traveler rights.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Arizona Companies Attend Atlanta UVS Event As South Korea Subsidiary Opens In Maricopa County

Arizona Companies Attend Atlanta UVS Event As South Korea Subsidiary Opens In Maricopa County

By Terri Jo Neff |

Fresh off a trip to Atlanta for the annual conference of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the president of Aerospace Arizona Association says the UVS industry in Arizona continues to grow, as a South Korea recently opened a subsidiary in Maricopa County.  A UVS is often referred to as a drone.

According to Mignonne Hollis, Aerospace Arizona promotes the aerospace industry throughout the State of Arizona. The organization informs its members on legislative, regulatory, safety and technical issues, while also educating federal, state, county, and local elected officials on the importance and necessity of policies that facilitate a thriving aerospace industry in Arizona.

Businesses and groups with Arizona ties which attended AUVSI’s conference in Atlanta included Darling Geomatics, GoTenna, HFE International, Hydronalix, and Prime Solutions Group. The Arizona Commerce Authority also had a representative in Atlanta for the AUVSI gathering.

In addition, several Aerospace Arizona representatives were in attendance, including Hollis, Lorie Grabham of American Airlines, Steve Latino with ASURE, Adam Hawkins of Global External Relations, and an official of PABLO AIR, a South Korea company which recently filed incorporation papers with the Arizona Secretary of State for a subsidiary, PABLO AIR International.

“While the conference was much smaller than it has been in previous years, we were able to make solid contacts and connections for Arizona – particularly the Benson Airport as it truly is a prime location for testing unmanned systems,” Hollis told AZ Free News.

One company that has already committed to using Benson’s municipal airport as a test site is PABLO AIR, which recently announced an MOU with three Arizona-based businesses to advance its proprietary unmanned drone delivery system platform into the United States.

The companies working with PABLO AIR are NGL Transportation, a Phoenix-based logistics company whose customers include Walmart and Amazon, as well as Delivery-EZ, a developer of unmanned home-delivery box systems also based in Phoenix. Hollis said Aerospace Arizona is the third business in the MOU, providing PABLO AIR a local test bed and institutional support, including information on FAA flight regulations.

PABLO AIR was announced as a 2021 finalist for AUVSI’s Excellence in Operations award which honors innovators who have shown a demonstrated commitment to advancing autonomy, leading and promoting safe adoption of unmanned systems, and developing programs which use UVS technologies to save lives and improve the human condition.

“We plan to demonstrate PABLO AIR’s unique technology in the global market by implementing practical commercialization along with demonstration of delivery in the United States, for the first time as a Korean drone startup,” said Kim Young-Joon, CEO of PABLO AIR.

Young-Joon added that the company has long-term goals to help resolve issues with the efficiency of various mobility vehicles, such as self-driving trucks, unmanned ground robots, and delivery drones.

Hollis said the aerospace industry is one of the largest economic sectors in Arizona. There are more than 1,200 companies engaged in the market in Arizona, which ranks the state as 5th in the U.S. for aerospace employment.

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