Wed, Apr 07, 2010
Federal Guidelines Won't Take Effect For Three Weeks
At least two airlines have already implemented policies to send
airplanes back to the gate if they are closing in on a three-hour
tarmac delay. New federal rules which go into effect April 29 limit
how long passengers may be held on a plane to three hours, and
airlines who violate those rules face hefty fines.
Both Continental Airlines and US Airways said Monday they have
implemented new policies well head of the end-of-the-month
deadline. There are exceptions in both airline's policies for
safety and other issues, but it is not clear how often they might
Syracuse.com reports that US Airways told employees in an
internal newsletter that "If a plane is out on the taxiway for
two-and-a-half hours, and takeoff isn't imminent, the pilots will
make an announcement and return to the gate." The airline said it
expects that airplanes that return to the gate may result in more
cancelled flights as crews exceed flight time rules.
Continental Airlines said if an airplane does not expect to
take off before the deadline passes, pilots are directed to
"reposition the aircraft at either a remote area or a gate, where
customers may deplane safely and securely." Continental's CEO Jeff
Smisek has also warned that the new rules may lead to more flight
cancellations to avoid paying fines of $27,500 per passenger.
Several of the major carriers have requested exemptions in the
rule for airports in the New York area. The DOT is collecting
comments on potential waivers through Friday.
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