Published on : Thursday, February 14, 2013
The U.S. Department of Transportation assessed the air carrier Sky King a $500,000 penalty for violating rules that protect passengers when their public charter flights are suddenly canceled and ordered the carrier to cease and desist from further violations.
Sky King was one of several carriers operating flights for Direct Air, a charter operator also known as Myrtle Beach Direct Air & Tours, which ceased operating in March 2012. Direct Air arranged charters from a number of cities in the Midwest and Northeast to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and cities in Florida.
Public charters differ from scheduled flights in that they operate only for a specific time period and are usually sold by a charter operator rather than an airline. DOT has specific rules applying to public charters, including a requirement that the charter operator have a financial security arrangement, such as a bond or letter of credit and an escrow account to protect consumers’ money if a flight is canceled. There is also a ban on canceling flights less than 10 days before departure unless it is physically impossible to operate the flight.
“Airline passengers should be able to book charter flights with the confidence that they will be returned home on time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “DOT will continue to protect the rights of airline consumers and take enforcement action against airlines and charter operators when those rights are violated.”