US airlines to face fines for tarmac delays

22 Dec 2009

Airlines that keep passengers waiting on US runways for more than two hours without serving them food or letting them off the plane could be fined US$27,500 a passenger.

The new ruling by the US federal government, which takes effect in the spring, only applies for the moment to domestic flights. Officials have been working on the proposal since 2007.

Transport secretary Ray LaHood said that airlines who did not carry food would have to stock up on snacks “for emergencies”.

The New York Times reported the Transportation Department saying that for 2007 and 2008 there were “an average of 1,500 flights a year, with 114,000 passengers, held on the tarmac for more than three hours”. Airlines are usually reluctant to bring an airplane back to the terminal because once it loses its place in line for take off, it has to start again at the end.

LaHood did not discount the possibility of the rule being extended in the future to cover international carriers.

Margie T Logarta

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