DOT Calls BS On "Misleading And Premature" Tarmac Delay Study

Remember that study from yesterday that said there had been a significant increase in the number of flight cancellations since the DOT enacted new rules limiting the number of hours a plane can sit on the tarmac? Well, it’s not sitting with the folks behind the rule, who say it’s a bunch of hogwash.

According to the DOT, the study “offers a misleading and premature assessment of the impact of the new passenger protections.” The agency also takes issue with the way the study took one month of data and used it to project years into the future, calling the research “far too narrow to yield defensible conclusions about future airline trends.”

In the agency’s view, the tarmac delay rules — which can fine an airline up to $27,500 per passenger for flights sitting on the tarmac over three hours — will force the airlines into scheduling their flights more efficiently, leading to both fewer delays and (hopefully) fewer cancellations.

So far, its plan has worked on the former front. Only five flights were delayed for more than three hours in May, all of them weather-related. Compare this to 35 flights that sat on the tarmac for more than three hours during the same month in 2009.

However, cancellations have increased since the regulation went into effect. The study attributes this to airlines opting to pull the plug on flights rather than face millions of dollars in fines for going over the time limit.

DOT fires back after airline tarmac delay backlash [AP]