Do the Tarmac Rules Work?

January/04/2011 16:51PM
1 interesting comment, join the discussion
Please follow and like us:

The USA Today is calling for foreign air carriers to put under the same new rules the domestic carriers have about keeping passengers cooped up on the tarmac. The article cites the fact that there were two dozen planeloads of passengers on the tarmac at JFK airport during the storm last week. Based on that, the USA Today wants more regulation. If you strand passengers now it’s a $27,000 per passenger fine, or over $2,000,000 per plane. It’s a good regulation if you only measure progress against stranding passengers.

How have the airlines avoided the fines. Simple, they just cancel the flight if there is any chance whatsoever there might be a 3 hour delay and they would have $2,000,000 per plane in fines. Since the regulation went into effect the percentage of flights cancelled has gone through the roof.

There is no question that the DOT regulations have reduced long tarmac delays for domestic passengers. The effects of the regulations on flight cancellation policies are less certain. According to Joshua Marks of Marks Aviation and Darryl Jenkins of The Airline Zone, who conducted a study titled “Summer 2010 Cancellations and the Five-Month Impact of the Three-Hour Tarmac Rule,” flight cancellations rose 18% over the same five-month period in 2009, potentially affecting 384,000 passengers, even though weather conditions in 2010 were better than those in the previous year. Marks and Jenkins argue that airlines’ systematic cancellation of flights is a pre-emptive tactic designed to avoid tarmac delay fines, and that the number of passengers helped by the three-hour rule is far lower than the number of passengers adversely affected by these anticipatory cancellations.

The USA Today is right, no domestic passengers were stranded on the tarmac during the storm in NYC, they were stranded at the airport for days. As soon as the threat of tarmac stranding looked possible, every domestic airline cancelled every domestic and foreign flight. The stranded, when this happens, doesn’t just occur at the airport where the storm happened, it happens at almost every airport that is scheduled to fly into that airport when the cancellations start.

So, this regulation works like most government regulation, to avoid the 1,000 situations of tarmac delays in 2009, we now have hundreds of thousands of flight cancellations we might not have had if the airlines went not in mortal fear of the huge fines. To keep 15,000 fliers from misery on the tarmac, we cancel the flights of hundreds of thousands of fliers.

Before the regulation went into effect, the airlines were cutting tarmac delays since every one became a media event and hurt their business and bottom line. The market was fixing the problem. But, our government wanted to get some publicity for fixing it faster. So, in normal fashion they put in regulations that fix what was already being fixed and created a bigger problem for travelers.

Please follow and like us:

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

Leave a Reply