Five airlines are not getting a temporary pass to leave passengers stuck in planes on runways.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Thursday denied the airlines’ requests for a temporary exemption from a new rule limiting tarmac delays. As a result, all U.S. carrier flights covered by the rule will be subject to its terms effective April 29. http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/dot7610.htm
“Passengers on flights delayed on the tarmac have a right to know they will not be held aboard a plane indefinitely,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “This is an important consumer protection, and we believe it should take effect as planned.”
JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines and US Airways had all sought temporary exemption from the new rules, which go into effect April 29.
At that date, airlines who leave passengers stranded on a delayed plane for more than three hours can be fined up to $27,500 a passenger – a pretty stiff fine. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2010/04/feds-reject-request-to-exempt-airlines-from-delay-fines.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MoneyCompany+%28Money+%26+Company%29
The tarmac-delay provision was part of a new airline passenger protection rule, issued last December, that prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac at large and medium-hub airports for more than three hours without deplaning passengers.
Exceptions were allowed only for safety or security reasons or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations.
The carriers argued that, without the requested exemption, large numbers of flights will have to be canceled at the New York area airports and affected passengers will face significant inconveniences and delays before being accommodated.
JetBlue, American and Delta argued that they needed an exemption for delays at JFK International Airport because there is runway construction going on there that won’t be complete until December. Continental said it needed an extension for delays at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Newark International Airport. US Airways requested an exemption for Philadelphia International Airport.
In denying the requests, the Transportation Department concluded that airlines could minimize tarmac delays by rerouting or rescheduling flights at JFK to allow the airport’s other three runways to absorb the extra traffic.
The Transportation Department also noted that it has the ability to take into account the impact of the runway closure and the harm to consumers when deciding whether to pursue enforcement action for failure to comply with the rule and the amount of a fine, if any, to seek as a result of non-compliance.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
email@example.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.