Speaking to the press earlier this week about the new FAA rule that fines airlines for every plane that stays on the tarmac for longer than three hours without returning to the gate to let the passengers off, U.S. Airways CEO Doug Parker expressed his disappointment with the regulation, but he also made it clear that the airline industry had no one to blame but itself.
Here’s Doug, as quoted by The Cranky Flier blog:
There absolutely will be cancellations that won’t be canceled otherwise. I don’t want to sound like we’re complaining, like some other airlines out there. Fact is, we [the industry] got ourselves in this mess. Fortunately it wasn’t us [US Airways] but in some of these situations, maybe we’re just fortunate.
This has been going on for awhile and we’ve been warned that we needed to get it fixed so shame on us. If you don’t fix it you’ll get legislation. The legislation is not going to be perfect and there will be unintended consequences, but we just have to deal with it.
More than likely, it’ll be preemptive – we’ll start canceling flights. $27,500 per passenger is a little more than each passenger pays.
The really bad part of this legislation is that when you look at these events, almost every one of them landed somewhere – diversion or something. Let’s have fines for that, but let’s not have fines for people trying to get out of airports, but that’s the problem we’ve now created.
We’re going to have airplanes never depart that should depart and that’s unfortunate. But again, we did it to ourselves.
U.S. Airways has actually been observing the new rule for most of April, and COO Robert Isom says that while there were “a number of flights that had to turn back and a few people that wanted to get off” the planes, it had “very little impact to the operation.”
That being said, he clarified that the generally good weather in April helped to minimize the problem and that he expects delays to increase come this summer. “Not only is there not enough room at hub airports out on the tarmac but there aren’t enough gates to handle all the airplanes that are supposed to take off and those who are going to land,” says Isom.
US Airways Gives a Unique Perspective on the Three Hour Delay Rule [The Cranky Flier]