MIAMI — The Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to assist the family members and passengers on Asiana 214 that crashed on July 6 at San Francisco airport.
Based on the Federal Air Carrier Family Support Act of 1997, all airlines are required to provide assistance after a crash by publicizing and staffing a reliable toll-free phone number for family members and passengers after a crash.
According to the DOT, Asiana failed to adhere to the family-assistance program.
The report says Asiana took two full days to contact three-quarters of the families who had family on-board the flight. The report also states that some families were not contacted until five days after the crash occurred. It also states the carrier lacked translators and personnel trained in crash response.
However, the airline said it faced challenges in reaching passengers and their relatives because many tickets were purchased through travel agents.
Additionally, the DOT argues that Asiana failed to widely publicize a telephone number for family members of those on-board. Even though a number was publicized, it was a reservation line, and it did not have a separate menu option for families and passengers.
“In the very rare event of a crash, airlines have a responsibility to provide their full support to help passengers and their families by following all the elements of their family assistance plans,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in announcing the fine. “The last thing families and passengers should have to worry about at such a stressful time is how to get information from their carrier.”
Although Asiana has not commented publicly about the report, a consent agreement for the fine has been drafted.
The agreement states that Asiana says twelve employees were on duty at San Francisco at the time of the crash, and employees from Los Angeles were also brought in to assist with the response effort.
Plus, the carrier contends that a 24-hour family assistance was set up to provide clothing, food, and counseling. It further argues that its CEO was present in San Francisco from July 9 till July 27 to help deal with the crisis. Asiana argued that his presence ensured families and passengers received adequate assistance.
Based on the DOT report, Asiana is being fined $400,000. Additionally, it is being credited $100,000 to sponsor conferences and training sessions for the next two years.