Thursday, July 07, 2011

Big Spike in Long Tarmac Delays in May

They'll be spinning this like a weaver on crystal meth, but there was a very large spike in tarmac delays of over three hours in May, according to Transportation Department data released today.

The sharp May increase -- to 16 -- argues for asking the question: Have airlines begun to believe that the DOT rules, which set fines of up to $27,500 per passenger for tarmac delays exceeding three hours without very good reason, are toothless -- driven by agency publicity rather than by a serious commitment to enforcement? The current figures are by far the highest since the rules went into effect in April of 2010. At that point, three-hour-plus delays plunged sharply, but the number crept up to four in April (the DOT blamed bad weather in Atlanta for three of those), and then quadrupled in May. The trend is not encouraging.

The DOT has yet to fine a single airline since the rules went into effect, incidentally.


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