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Tarmac Delays: Denial of Request for Exemption

About this Document

On March 30, 2010, the Department published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comment on separate requests by five airlines for a temporary exemption from a requirement that U.S. carriers adopt contingency plans for lengthy tarmac delays. These plans must include an assurance that a carrier will not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours in the case of domestic flights and for more than a set number of hours as determined by a carrier in the case of international flights without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane, with certain exceptions for safety, security, or Air Traffic Control (ATC) related reasons.

The requests cover operations at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). The carriers contend that without the requested exemption covering seven months in 2010 during which runway construction is expected to be underway at JFK, large numbers of flights will have to be canceled at the New York area airports and affected passengers will face significant inconveniences and delays before being re-accommodated.

The Department received approximately 135 comments on these exemption requests, primarily from individual consumers. After fully considering the comments submitted, the Department is issuing this notice to announce its decision denying each of these exemption requests as not being in the public interest since the concerns raised by the carriers can be resolved through more careful flight scheduling. The notice also points out that if totally unexpected situations occur appropriate prosecutorial discretion can be applied with respect to potential enforcement action.

Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013