Without any warning, without any advance notice, Direct Air yesterday suspended all flights. Direct Air offered non-stop flights from Lehigh Valley International Airport to Florida. It also operated out of many other airports, including Orlando/Tampa, Myrtle Beach, Pittsburgh, and Boston.
The suspension of flights left people stranded. It ruined future traveling plans for individuals and families who have already purchased flight tickets for the forthcoming vacation season - working families who can't afford to purchase another set of tickets from another airline.
The announcement on its website states:
"Direct Air finds it necessary to suspend flight operation from Tuesday, May 13, 2012 until May 15, 2012. This decision was made to address operational matters. We are currently evaluating strategic alternatives for Direct Air.
"Direct Air is committed to our passengers, employees, and the communities we serve.
Please check back for more details.
Very truly yours, Direct Air."
What Direct Air did should be illegal. It should be a criminal action. Financial difficulties don't arise overnight. Officials of the distressed airline had to know about the financial mess before abruptly shutting down the airline.
It was wrong for the airlines to stop flights abruptly and leave passengers stranded. How many of those passengers missed connecting flights? How many had to incur high expenses either for lodging or for alternative methods of reaching their destinations, or both? How many of those passengers had people waiting for them at destinations and wondering why they didn't arrive?
What about passengers taking a flight for a funeral, to discover the airline wasn't taking them or providing them with an alternative? It isn't fair the way Direct Air handled things.
There has to be legislation by Congress to stop such an abrupt shutdown by an airline. We can understand a company going broke and going out of business, but advance notice of the stoppage of flights has to be given. What Direct Air did yesterday is inexcusable.
Officials of the airline should be held liable for the financial troubles of its customers, including the refunding of tickets. They should be fined for not given passengers advance notice to prevent them from being stranded in airport terminals.
It's been reported that Direct Air has gotten behind on paying airport fees, including fees owed to Lehigh Valley International Airport.
This should be a matter settled between the airline and the airport without the passengers being victimized.
Airlines are businesses capable of failure. There's no reason, though, that such failure should happen so suddenly without warning.
It's sad that so many individuals have to suffer through the inadequacies of corporate officials. The FAA, Congress, and other federal officials must take action to make sure such ridiculous and horrible business decisions by an airline doesn't occur in the future.
By Ron Gower