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US Airline Industry

DOT: Tarmac delays down, cancellations, complaints up

Christopher Hinton  Sep 13, 2010

NEW YORK - The number of tarmac delays among scheduled flights that exceeded three hours fell sharply in July from a year ago while cancellations rose modestly, the Department of Transportation said Monday.

Only three tarmac delays were reported among the nation's largest airlines in July, down from 161 in the same month last year. Cancellations rose to 1.4% of scheduled flights from 1.2% a year ago.

July was the third full month of data since a new aviation consumer rule went into effect at the end of April. Those rules prohibit U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers.

Carriers in violation face fines of up to $27,000 per passenger.

Most delays and cancellations are causes by poor weather, particularly thunderstorms.

At the end of July, there were six flight routes that were chronically delayed, or delayed by more than 30 minutes 50% of the time. Those included Delta Air Lines routes, one Southwest Airlines route and one ExpressJet route.

Complaints against the airlines nonetheless climbed for July, up 32.3% from a year ago to 1,094

DOT: Tarmac delays down, cancellations, complaints up
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