US Airways fined for withholding delay data

US Airways Group Inc. was fined $50,000 because reservations agents failed to give consumers required information about delays on specific flights when asked, the U.S. Transportation Department said.

The airline must pay $30,000. The rest of the fine will be forgiven if no further violations occur in the next year.

Separately, US Airways said yesterday that its 3,300 mechanics, represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, had ratified a new contract. The agreement, in effect through 2011, was approved by 65 percent of the workers.

The contract provides higher wages, improved overtime rates, premiums for certain work shifts and participation in the IAM National Pension Plan, the airline and the union said. The pact brings mechanics for the old America West Airlines and US Airways under a single contract for the first time since the carriers merged in September 2005.

US Airways' management and employee unions are still bargaining over single contracts for pilots, flight attendants and baggage handlers. The airline is the dominant carrier at Philadelphia International Airport.

US Airways is at least the fourth carrier penalized in the last 15 months over flight-delay disclosures. The Transportation Department stepped up checks on airlines after record travel delays last year.

In test phone calls by the department in November 2006, reservations agents for the Tempe, Ariz., carrier said they did not have on-time performance results or were unfamiliar with their availability, according to the April 2 government order imposing the fine.

The failure most likely occurred because US Airways and America West still were using separate reservation systems after their 2005 merger, airline spokesman Phil Gee said yesterday in an e-mail.

The carrier implemented an aggressive retraining program and has made sure that on-time performance information is available on its Web site, Gee said. The two reservation systems were combined in March 2007.

Inquirer staff writer Tom Belden contributed to this article.