Passing The Costs Onto The Customer?
As the Department of Transportation
wraps up a six-month investigation into chronically late airline
flights, carriers are going on the offensive... saying so-called
"congestion pricing" would lead to higher airfares for
As ANN reported, the DOT
launched its investigation into suspect airline scheduling
practices in April. The DOT alleged in some cases, airlines
published flight schedules the carriers knew to be, at best,
dazzlingly optimistic... and at worst, horribly inaccurate. At that
time, the New York Times reported as many as eight airlines could
face potential fines for failing to tell the truth in their flight
The Associated Press reports DOT has since found at least 26
flights more than 15 minutes late, more than 70 percent of the
time. Agency spokesman Brian Turmail said if any of those 26
flights were delayed in the most recent quarter reviewed by DOT,
those airlines would face "significant financial penalties."
Results of the survey are expected to be made available in a few
weeks... but the Air Traffic Association, lobbying group for the
nation's largest airlines, is beginning the PR battle now.
"We're disappointed that they're taking this course of action
given the effort by industry to significantly reduce delays," said
ATA spokesman David Castelveter "No one has greater incentive to
move its flights on-time than the airlines."
Castelveter notes airlines have a strong incentive to improve
their schedules, saying delays cost the industry $6 billion per
year. ATA maintains the answer lies not in eliminating flights from
the delayed list, however... as those flights are scheduled based
on customer demand.
DOT Secretary Mary Peters suggested this week airlines operating
chronically-late flights be forced to pay higher landing fees
during peak periods, in order to prompt airlines to voluntarily
restrict flights causing the congestion.
The airlines respond, however, such practices wouldn't curb
flights. What it would lead to, the carriers say, are higher
Carriers likely to face fines include Atlantic Southeast
Airlines, ExpressJet, SkyWest, AirTran, Delta, and Comair. Those
airlines -- most of them regional carriers -- operated flights that
were late at least 90 percent of the time in August. Nearly half of
ASA's flights were late; two arrived late every time they took off,
according to DOT.
ASA spokeswoman Kristen Loughman said the SkyWest-subsidiary was
not aware of any looming fines from DOT.