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Airlines fined more than in Bush era

AirTran was fined for promoting $39 fares that really cost $44. AirTran was fined for promoting $39 fares that really cost $44. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
Bloomberg News / October 8, 2010

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WASHINGTON — AirTran Airways paid a fine for promoting $39 fares that cost $44. Delta Air Lines was penalized for not disclosing fees, Continental Airlines for underreporting disabled passengers’ complaints. That was in May alone.

President Obama’s Transportation Department has collected nearly twice as much in aviation industry fines as in the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency, data show.

The fines are weighing on carriers that recently reported their first collective profit in 2 1/2 years, said Kenneth Quinn, a former Federal Aviation Administration official. “The pendulum has swung pretty hard,’’ he said.

The Transportation Department’s enforcement office has levied $4.77 million in penalties since Obama took office, an 84 percent jump from 2007-2008. And the FAA, which regulates safety, proposed $77.4 million in fines in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, up 66 percent from the year ended Sept. 30, 2008.