O’Hare, Midway Listed in Tarmac Rule Suspension
Airlines’ motion to suspend rule, allowing airline passengers to be captive on tarmac longer than 3 hours. Motion_of_Airlines_for_America_and_Regional_Airline_Association_for_a_Temporary_Exemption_from_14_C_F_R_Section_259_4
Flyerrights.org says the airline industry is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to suspend its rule that limits boarded planes to a maximum of three hours on tarmacs. The organization said the public comment period about the proposed suspension would end Friday, April 25, 2013. While federal budget sequestration and FAA staffing furloughs have caused air traffic controller shortages that could cause flight delays, Airlines for America (A4A) and Regional Airline Association filed a motion for a Temporary Exemption from 14 C.F.R. § 259.4 (Document ID DOT-OST-2013-0084-0001).
Flyerrights.org planned to submit is comments Friday challenging the airline industry motion, encouraging air travelers and organizations to submit individual comments against allowing airlines to hold passengers aboard planes grounded on tarmacs. Flyerrights.org President Paul Hudson says the airlines “are requesting to be allowed by the DOT to warehouse passengers on the tarmac for over 3 hours, without adequate food, water or even working toilet facilities, and not return to the terminal during the FAA sequester cuts in FAA air traffic controllers or for the next 90 days, whichever is longer.”
Hudson says the three-hour rule took effect in 2010 with flexibility for situations involving passenger safety, flight security or air traffic control orders. Flyerrights.org says the Department of Transportation’s enforcement has, so far, not fined any airline “anywhere near the maximum of $27,500 per passenger,” with no fines in 90% of cases involving three-hour rule violations.
Hudson says the rule has helped reduce “3+ hour tarmac confinements by up to 98% (from 250,000 passengers per year to a still too high 5,000 per year since 2010).”