U.S. Airways & Continental Get Head Start On Observing New Tarmac Delay Rules

Even though the new FAA rules regarding tarmac delays don’t kick in until April 29, both U.S. Airways and Continental say they have already begun observing the regulations.

The new rule will require airlines to return a plane to the gate and allow passengers to deplane if it has been waiting on the tarmac for three hours, or face fines if they do not.

In an employee newsletter sent out yesterday, U.S. Airways wrote that they actually started observing the rule on April 1:

To protect itself from being fined, US Airways has implemented ‘trigger’ points to monitor delay times… If a plane is out on the taxiway for two-and-a-half hours, and takeoff isn’t imminent, the pilots will make an announcement and return to the gate.

Meanwhile, Continental, whose CEO had previously announced that the airline would cancel flights rather than be fined for late takeoffs now says that if a pilot of flight delayed two hours doesn’t expect to take off before the three-hour deadline, the pilot will “reposition the aircraft at either a remote area or gate, where customers may deplane safely and securely.”

In other news about the new FAA regulations, the DOT said yesterday that they are pushing back the start date for a new rule requiring airlines to put flight delay data on their Web sites from April 29 to June 29.

Airlines start tarmac delay response early [AP]