DOT: Tarmac delays ‘dramatically diminished’ in first year of 3-hr. rule

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Published: June 10, 2011

US Dept. of Transportation said there were only 20 tarmac delays of more than 3 hr. reported from May 2010 through April 2011 by the airlines that file on-time performance data with DOT, “dramatically diminished” from 693 in May 2009 through April 2010, according to its Air Travel Consumer Report. April was the 12th full month of data since the new, 3 hr.-rule went into effect ( ATW Daily News, April 29, 2010 ).

“On the one-year anniversary of the tarmac delay rule, it’s clear that we’ve accomplished our goal of virtually eliminating the number of aircraft leaving travelers stranded without access to food, water or working lavatories for hours on end,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is a giant step forward for the rights of air travelers.”

At the same time, DOT said the number of canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than 2 hr.—those most likely to be canceled to avoid violating the rule—increased “only slightly,” from 336 between May 2009 and April 2010 to 387 between May 2010 and April 2011.“These additional 51 cancellations compare to over 6 million flights operated by the reporting carriers in a given year,” said DOT.

For April, DOT said the nation’s largest carriers reported four flights with tarmac delays of more than 3 hr., up from no flights reported in March. According to BTS, the 16 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 75.5% in April, down from 79.2% in March.

In April, the carriers reported that 7.57% of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.15% in March; 8.35% by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.41% in March; 5.68% by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.35% in March; 0.55% by extreme weather, compared to 0.32% in March; and 0.04% for security reasons, equal to 0.04% in March.

Hawaiian Airlines again led all carriers in April OTP with an on-time arrival rate of 94.1%. Alaska Airlines had an on-time arrival rate of 89.5%, followed by AirTran Airways at 82%.

The worst performers were ExpressJet Airlines at 68%, JetBlue Airways at 68.4% and Atlantic Southeast Airlines at 68.5%.

During April, DOT said the carriers canceled 2% of their scheduled domestic flights, compared to 0.7% in April 2010 and 1.3% flights with tarmac delays of more than 2 hr. in April, up from 12 in the year-ago month.

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