Ray LaHood, Transportation Secretary, relayed a message on Tuesday to airlines who might be thinking of violating his department’s new three-hour limit on tarmac strandings.
“There will be strong enforcement,” LaHood informed to reporters in a conference call. “I just think that has to be part of our plan to make sure that passengers understand that airlines understand we’re serious about this.”
LaHood avoided a question regarding whether or not he will seek the highest fine against airlines that break the rule – $27,500 per passenger. However he pointed to his department’s recent $16.4 million penalty against Toyota for its timely response to sticking gas pedals as a sign of his inclination.
“I don’t think anybody thinks that Ray LaHood is not going to have strong enforcement,” he said of himself.
The rule that limits airlines to three hours of keeping passengers on the tarmac goes into effect Thursday April 29th. After the three hours is up, planes are forced to return to a gate unless the captain of the flight decides it’s unsafe to do so or inconvenient for airport operations. The new law also requires airlines to give passengers with working toilets and, after two hours have passed, food and water.
Airlines are concerned that they may have to cancel flights, which will then force passengers to rebook tickets and create a heavier inconvenience than if they had only waited onboard for clearance and take off.
Airlines that choose to violate the three-hour rule will need to report their violations to the Transportation Department, LaHood stated, insisting that if airlines do not report themselves, passengers will.
Source: abc NEWS