The Transportation Department fined American Eagle $200,000 on Tuesday for tarmac delays at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport last Christmas.Ten Eagle flights sat on the tarmac for more than three hours during the Dec. 25 snowstorm that blanketed North Texas. A flight from Sioux Falls, S.D., had a delay of three hours and 48 minutes as it sat on the tarmac waiting for a gate assignment, the department said.“Airline passengers have rights, and the Department of Transportation has rules in place to protect them from being stuck on a tarmac waiting hours to get off their plane,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “We will continue to take enforcement action when airlines violate our tarmac delay rules.”Another Eagle flight, from Baton Rouge, La., arrived at 3:29 p.m., but passengers could not disembark until 8:01 p.m., four hours and 32 minutes after landing, the department said.The department found that eight other Eagle flights had tarmac delays but were not in violation because “they fell under exceptions to the rule.” Exceptions include keeping the plane on the tarmac for security or air traffic control reasons or for the safety of ground crew workers during severe weather.American Eagle, owned by Fort Worth-based AMR Corp., said it has settled with the department over the violations.“We have apologized to customers who were impacted by these delays and have put procedures into place to help better accommodate our customers when inclement weather occurs,” the carrier said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of those who fly with us is always our top priority and we regret the inconvenience caused to those whose travel plans were disrupted.”This is the second time the Transportation Department has fined Eagle for lengthy tarmac delays. In 2011, the carrier was fined $900,000 for delays at Chicago O’Hare Airport on May 29 that year.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk