Tags: American | Eagle | Fine | Delays

US Fines American Eagle $900,000 for Ground Delays

Monday, 14 Nov 2011 10:51 AM

The U.S. government fined regional carrier American Eagle $900,000 Monday in the first enforcement of a regulation aimed at curbing airport ground delays that strand passengers on planes for hours.

The penalty against American Eagle, a unit of American Airlines parent AMR Corp., for extended delays affecting more than 600 people on 15 flights last May in Chicago is also one of the largest consumer protection fines ever levied by the U.S. Transportation Department.

As part of a settlement with regulators, American Eagle was ordered to refrain from future violations of the rule limiting ground delays to three hours, and was instructed to use more than a quarter of the fine to compensate passengers.

"We put the tarmac rule in place to protect passengers and we take any violation very seriously," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

American Eagle said in a statement that the extended taxi delays on May 29 were due to bad weather that worsened congestion at Chicago's O'Hare airport.

"American Eagle is absolutely committed to the safety of our customers and employees, and regrets the inconvenience these delays caused," the company's chief executive, Dan Garton, said in a statement.

Affected customers, the airline said, were given frequent flier credits or vouchers for future travel.

Transportation regulators came under pressure last week from congressional lawmakers to begin enforcing the rule, which was imposed last year and grew out of a movement on Capitol Hill to improve consumer protections for airline passengers.

Extended tarmac delays have been cut sharply — from 690 in the year before the rule took effect to 20 in the first year after. Flight cancellations, however, are up as carriers would rather avoid scrutiny of their operations and potential fines than risk violating the rule.

JetBlue Airways last week met with Transportation Department officials to explain why five flights diverted to Hartford's Bradley airport during last month's freak Northeast snowstorm experienced ground delays exceeding three hours. One sat on the tarmac for seven hours.

American Airlines also had one diverted flight from Paris on the ground in Hartford for more than seven hours on the same day, though the carrier said problems arranging U.S. Customs clearance for passengers were to blame for the delay. Transportation Department officials are reviewing that case as well.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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The U.S. government fined regional carrier American Eagle $900,000 Monday in the first enforcement of a regulation aimed at curbing airport ground delays that strand passengers on planes for hours. The penalty against American Eagle, a unit of American Airlines parent AMR...
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Monday, 14 Nov 2011 10:51 AM
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