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Mon, Dec 03, 2007

DOT Takes Credit For Improvements In Delayed Airline Flights

Peters Says Action, Fines Spurred Carriers To Do Better

Airlines have taken steps to fix chronically delayed flights, including changing flight routes, adding flight crews and making additional aircraft available as the result of a recent federal enforcement effort designed to reduce the number of chronically delayed flights plaguing travelers, US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announced Monday.

Most importantly, the Secretary said, the airlines involved in the investigation have acted to end chronic delays for the flights identified by the Department of Transportation as part of the investigation.

“Tough scrutiny and a willingness to impose serious penalties have caused the airlines to correct these chronically delayed flights," Peters (right) said. “We will continue to be vigilant, and we will maintain our strong enforcement of these rules to help keep passengers from being treated unfairly.”

As ANN reported, in May DOT launched an investigation into 20 US airlines to determine whether the carriers were engaging in unrealistic advertising practices by publishing schedules for flights that almost never operate on time.

The Department focused its investigation on chronically delayed flights -- flights that were more than 15 minutes late, more than 70 percent of the time –- over the first three calendar quarters of this year.

The Department identified 183 flights that were chronically delayed during the first quarter, and in May advised the 15 airlines that operated those delayed flights that they needed to take corrective action. In July, after the end of the second quarter, the six airlines operating 25 flights that were chronically delayed for two consecutive quarters were notified that if they failed to address these flights by the following quarter, they would face financial penalties of up to $25,000 per violation.

According to Peters, none of the chronically delayed flights from the first two quarters were chronically delayed in the third quarter, based on September figures. In addition, the investigation found that airlines are now monitoring chronically delayed flights more closely, and are taking a number of steps to correct chronically delayed flights.

The Secretary said the Department also issued a proposal earlier this month to require airlines to create legally binding contingency plans for extended tarmac delays, respond to all consumer complaints within 30 days, publish complaint information online, and provide on-time performance information for their international flights in addition to their domestic flights.

FMI: www.dot.gov

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