Apparently a major international airline can operate flights to the US for months while violating FAA policies.
Lufthansa Faces Big Fine For “Illegal” US Flights
Lufthansa is facing a $6.428 million civil penalty from the US Federal Aviation Administration for conducting almost 900 flights that were “not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.”
The FAA alleges that Lufthansa operated flights into and out of San Diego International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport without the FAA authorization required to do so.
Foreign airlines can only conduct scheduled flights into and out of airports that are listed in their FAA-issued Operations Specifications, and the FAA alleges that neither airport was in Lufthansa’s Operations Specifications.
This relates to the following flights:
- Between March 22, 2018, and May 27, 2019, Lufthansa operated approximately 600 flights with A340-300s between Frankfurt and San Diego
- Between October 28, 2018, and April 10, 2019, Lufthansa operated approximately 292 flights with A330-300 and 747-400 aircraft between Frankfurt and Philadelphia
Lufthansa has 30 days to respond to the FAA.
My Take On This
I have a few thoughts based on this.
First of all, it seems like Lufthansa is facing a huge fine based on a technicality here. Presumably the airline could have gotten these airports “authorized” for service without issue, but the problem was just that it wasn’t in Lufthansa’s Operations Specifications.
Second of all, it’s interesting that the FAA accuses Lufthansa of seemingly doing this intentionally, at least based on my read:
The FAA alleges Lufthansa operated the flights into and out of San Diego International and Philadelphia International airports when it knew it lacked FAA authorization to do so
Does that mean that Lufthansa should have known the rules but chose not to follow them, thinking they could get away with this, or is it possible that this was an oversight?
Lastly, this doesn’t exactly make the FAA look good. How good is the FAA as an enforcement agency if they let a major international airline operate nearly 1,000 flights to the country in violation of their agreement? Launching a new international flight is no small project, so what does it say that not a single department involved picked up on this during the process?
Forget fining Lufthansa, it sounds like someone at the FAA should be fired for allowing this to happen, if it’s such a big deal.
What’s your read on this situation?