December 21 - Secretary LaHood, The Über Passenger Advocate!

BTC Applauds New 3-Hour Extended Tarmac Delay Rule

Congestion and delays to be substantially mitigated

Radnor, PA, December 21, 2009--Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today applauded Secretary Ray LaHood and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for its rulemaking process that led to landmark passenger protections including requiring airlines to deplane passengers after 3 hours of an extended tarmac delay if it is safe and operationally feasible to do so. Passenger protections concerning tarmac delays have been debated for some 10 years. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) deserve significant credit for drawing official Washington attention to this serious problem in recent years.

Perhaps the most profound and positive implication of this 3-hour rule is that it simply will not work at the 3 New York City-area airports, and other over-scheduled major hubs, unless incumbent airlines rationalize and de-peak their schedules and operations. Each airline will have to look at their entire system and restructure, or they will violate the new rule virtually every day. Global carriers will have to consider changes to their U.S. domestic and international schedules and operations. The problem of congestion and delays could be substantially alleviated with this 3-hour rule.

BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell stated, “Passengers will likely experience problems during the period when airlines are reengineering their businesses as 120 days is not sufficient time for airlines to prepare for this fundamental and complex change-management process. Over the longer term, however, passengers will move throughout the aviation system much more efficiently and business travelers in particular will recapture productivity lost sitting on delayed aircraft.”

“All passengers will benefit from the requirement that airlines must provide food, water, operable lavatories and medical attention as needed. Importantly, passengers will finally have hope and realistic expectations that there is an exit strategy should a flight be destined to remain excessively delayed,” added Mitchell.

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