The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said it has fined American Airlines US$1 million and Delta Air Lines $750,000 for violating federal statutes and the Department’s rule prohibiting long tarmac delays.
DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office investigation revealed that 10 domestic and three international flights operated by American at various airports throughout the United States violated the Department’s tarmac delay rule between December 2015 and January 2017.
The office also found that 11 flights operated by Delta violated the tarmac delay rule between January 2017 and February 2018.
The DOT said penalties for violations of the tarmac delay rule vary based on the facts and circumstances in the case, including, but not limited to, the consumer harm, the number of violations, and the violator’s compliance disposition and enforcement history.
Under DOT rules, airlines operating aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats are prohibited from allowing their domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours at US airports and their international flights to remain on the tarmac for more than four hours at US airports without giving passengers an opportunity to leave the aircraft. Exceptions to the time limits are allowed only for safety, security, or air traffic control-related reasons.
Of the $1 million assessed to American, $450,000 will be credited to the airline for compensation provided to passengers on the affected flights.
Of the $750,000 assessed to Delta, $450,000 will be credited to the airline for compensation provided to passengers who experienced lengthy tarmac delays, and for Delta’s costs of establishing a backup data center and an automated aircraft-parking guidance and jet-bridge positioning system.
More information about the specific lengthy tarmac delays can be found in the consent orders, available at www.regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2019-0001.