Schakowsky, Cicilline Introduce Legislation to Hold Airlines Accountable for Antitrust Violations

Schakowsky, Cicilline Introduce Legislation to Hold Airlines Accountable for Antitrust Violations

Luke.Zakedis@m…

Tue, 08/09/2022 - 11:57

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), Chair of the Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, introduced the Ensuring Friendly Skies for Passengers Act. This bill empowers the FTC to enforce antitrust violations and unfair or deceptive practices by airlines.

The Ensuring Friendly Skies for Passengers Act gives power to the FTC and state attorneys general to hold airlines accountable for selling tickets or delaying or cancelling flights when an airline knows they do not have sufficient staff to operate. Specifically, the bill will make it unlawful to cancel a flight less than four hours prior to takeoff if the airline knew at least two days prior that it did not have enough staff. Similarly, domestic delays of four hours and international delays of six hours would face similar consequences if the airlines knew in advance they did not have enough staff. The legislation also authorizes 100 new employees at the FTC to handle the increased workload of investigating these incidents.

“This summer consumers are suffering at airports as flights are delayed and cancellations mount. Airlines took pandemic bailouts to the tune of $54 billion in taxpayer dollars, cut their staff, and now are stranding customers and putting consumers on the hook for their failures. It is essential that consumers get relief and that means stronger enforcement of the airline industry is urgently needed,” said Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky. “This legislation empowers the FTC and state attorneys general to hold airlines accountable for selling tickets or delaying or cancelling flights when an airline knows they don’t have sufficient staff to operate. Enough is enough. The airline industry must be held accountable for the harm they are causing: the missed life events, time separated from family and friends, and the stress of navigating a travel system that isn’t putting consumers first.”

“After taking tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money during Covid, it is completely inexcusable that the major airlines are short staffed and canceling thousands of flights a day,” said Chairman David Cicilline. “This commonsense bill protects consumers by removing a longstanding exemption that has shielded airline carriers for their abusive practices—including breaking the antitrust laws—and bans industry practices that leave consumers high and dry. I applaud Chair Schakowsky for this important legislation that is long overdue.”

“As this summer’s travel meltdowns have made abundantly clear, the flying public needs more cops on the beat to police unfair and deceptive practices in the air travel marketplace,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of National Consumers League. “This bill will allow the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to supplement the Department of Transportation’s consumer protection authority. In addition, it will prohibit airlines from selling tickets for flights they are unlikely to have the staff to fly.”

“The air travel crisis is clear evidence of the need for stronger consumer protections for passengers,” said Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America. “CFA supports Representative Schakowsky’s bill, which not only requires airlines to ensure that they can staff the flights they’ve sold, but also permits state and federal regulators to ensure that they are held accountable when they fail to do so.”

Full bill text can be found here.

Congress Number
August 9, 2022
August 22, 2022

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