Had Called Tarmac Rule Stupid, Was He Right?
By Eddy Metcalf
June 9, 2011
- Consumer advocate groups called on tougher airline
regulations as a result of 47 passengers that were
forced to remain seated overnight on the airport tarmac
at Rochester International Airport on August 8, 2009.
Continental Airlines Flight 2816 had taxi
from the gate to the runway with its passengers,
however, due to poor weather conditions the aircraft was
not allowed to takeoff.
Rather than taxi the aircraft back to the gate and passengers allowed to deplane the aircraft just sat out on the taxiway, complete with crying babies, the aroma of over used toilets and AC system that was not turned on.
As a result of this incident DOT?s Aviation Enforcement Office sets precedent on November 24, 2009, by issuing the first ever enforcement orders against an airline for stranding passengers for an unreasonable amount of time. In addition, new regulations, ?Tarmac Rule? was put in place to prevent these kinds of events from happening again.
Federal Aviation Administration implemented the
Continental Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek
called the plan ?stupid? and ?inane,? and warned it would lead
to a sharp increase in cancellations.
During the first 12 months after a new rule which limited
airline tarmac delays went into effect, lengthy delays
experienced by passengers aboard aircraft largely disappeared
and only a minimal number of flights were canceled to avoid
delays on the tarmac, the U.S. Department of Transportation
one-year anniversary of the tarmac delay rule, it?s clear that
we?ve accomplished our goal of virtually eliminating the number
of aircraft leaving travelers stranded without access to food,
water, or working lavatories for hours on end,?
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. ?This is
a giant step forward for the rights of
to DOT?s Air
Travel Consumer Report, there were only 20 total
tarmac delays of more than three hours reported from May 2010
through April 2011 by the airlines that file on-time performance
data with DOT, compared to 693 reported from May 2009 through
April 2010. April was the 12th full month of data since
the new rule went into effect on April 29, 2010.
At the same time, the number of canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours ? those most likely to be canceled to avoid violating the rule ? increased only slightly, from 336 between May 2009 and April 2010 to 387 between May 2010 and April 2011. These additional 51 cancellations compare to over 6 million flights operated by the reporting carriers in a given year.
The rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from allowing an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without providing an opportunity for passengers to deplane, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. International flights of both U.S. and foreign carriers at U.S. airports will be subject to a four-hour tarmac delay limit beginning August 23.
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