Mesaba Airlines Fined For
Failing To Provide Wheelchair Services
January 8, 2011 - The U.S. Department of Transportation
(DOT) assessed a civil penalty against Mesaba Aviation
for violating 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382) rules which
protect air travelers with disabilities. The carrier was
assessed a civil penalty of $125,000.
Mesaba Airlines is an American regional airline based in
“We expect airlines to respect the rights of passengers with disabilities, and we will continue to take enforcement action when they do not,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
rules implementing the Air Carrier Access Act require airlines
to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities in
boarding and deplaning aircraft, including the use of
wheelchairs, ramps, mechanical lifts or service personnel where
needed. Carriers also
must respond within 30 days to written complaints about their
treatment of passengers with disabilities and specifically
address the issues raised in each complaint, as well as inform
passengers that they can refer their complaints to DOT for
Aviation Enforcement Office reviewed complaints about Mesaba’s
treatment of passengers with disabilities filed with the carrier
and with DOT during 2007 and 2008.
The complaints revealed a number of violations of the
requirement to provide adequate enplaning and deplaning
assistance, as well as instances where the carrier did not
provide the required written responses to complaints from
passengers with disabilities or notify them that they could
refer their complaints to DOT.
The civil penalty is in regards to Mesaba Aviation, failed to provide wheelchair assistance to passengers with a disability and making dispositive responses to written complaints. Part 382 implements the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), 49 U.S.C. § 41705, and violations of that part also violate the ACAA.
extent that the ACAA and Part 382 violations occurred in
interstate air transportation, the incidents are also violations
of 49 U.S.C. § 41702, which requires that air carriers provide
safe and adequate interstate air transportation; to the extent
the violations occurred in foreign air transportation, the
incidents would violate 49 U.S.C. § 41310, which, in part,
prohibits air carriers and foreign air carriers from
unreasonably discriminating against any person in foreign air
transportation. This order directs Mesaba to cease and desist
from future violations of Part 382 and assesses the carrier
$125,000 in civil penalties .
Under section 382.39 [now sections 382.91 to 382.105], carriers must provide passengers with disability-related assistance in enplaning and deplaning aircraft. This assistance includes, as needed, the provision of services and personnel and the use of wheelchairs, ramps, or mechanical lifts. Section 382.39(a)(3) [now section 382.103] prohibits carriers from leaving passengers who are not independently mobile unattended in a ground wheelchair, boarding wheelchair, or other device for more than 30 minutes.
Section 328.65 [now section 382.155] requires carriers to provide a dispositive written response to a written complaint alleging a violation of Part 382 within 30 days of its receipt. An appropriate dispositive response must specifically discuss the complaint at issue, state the carrier’s view of whether a violation occurred, and state that the complainant may refer the matter to the Department for an investigation.
In mitigation, Mesaba explains that the complaint files identified by the Department in this matter involved services provided to passengers ticketed on Northwest Airlines, Inc. (Northwest) and Delta Air Lines, Inc. (Delta). Mesaba further explained that during the relevant period, Mesaba was wholly-owned and controlled by those carriers, both of which exclusively handled passenger sales, reservation, customer care, and recordkeeping functions, and most terminal services, for passengers on Mesaba flights.
Mesaba stated that Northwest and Delta's Customer Care Departments
maintained primary responsibility for managing and providing dispositive
responses to disability-related complaints when required by Part 382.
Mesaba stateed that it relied exclusively on Northwest/Delta and their wheelchair service contractors to meet the regulatory responsibility for terminal wheelchair assistance that section 382.91 assigns to Mesaba when it delivers a disabled passenger requiring such assistance to one of those hubs.
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