[Chart: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation]
As the chart shows, tarmac delays -- that is, planes that sat idled for over three hours after leaving the gate -- rose again sharply in June, month-to-month compared with June 2010.
The data from the Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics was released today. There was a long period of few or no tarmac delays after a new federal rule went into effect in the spring of 2010, providing for fines of $27,500 per passenger for tarmac delays of over three hours without a very good excuse.
Delays shot up in May, and again in June.
No fines have yet been imposed against an airline under that rule.
Here's a Q&A from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics on tarmac delays, etc.
Whenever I mention this subject I get e-mails pointing out that "tarmac" is a misnomer, that the correct term is apron or ramp. Alas, tarmac is the word commonly used now. "Tarmac," by the way, is a trade name that has entered common usage to refer to tarmacadam, or tar-penetration macadam, the kind of paving material used for ... aprons and ramps and taxiways.