Court rejects airline challenge


A U.S. appeals court rejected airlines’ challenge to a regulation letting airport operators charge more at busy times of the day to reduce delays.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the petition brought by the Air Transport Association, the carriers’ Washington trade group, which represents companies including Delta Air Lines Inc. and AMR Corp., which owns American Airlines. The carriers said the regulation was discriminatory and unreasonable.

The “creativity” of regulators should be welcomed to alleviate flight congestion, the appeals court wrote. The higher fees were allowed under a U.S. Transportation Department regulation made final in 2008.

“It is entirely reasonable to expect an airline, and in turn its passengers, to pay a premium for the opportunity to arrive at a peak time,” the court wrote.

In its challenge, the airlines also claimed the regulation wrongfully allowed state and local airport authorities to charge fees preempted by federal law and provided inadequate guidance to the airports on how the Department of Transportation would evaluate the reasonableness of the fees.

The case is Air Transport Association of America Inc. v. U.S. Department of Transportation, 08-1293, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Washington).