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American Airlines fined $1.6 million for tarmac delays

An American Airlines jet gets de-iced at DFW Airport during a February 2015 ice storm. The carrier was fined $1.6 million for three-plus hour delays on six flights sitting on DFW’s tarmac during the 2015 storm.
An American Airlines jet gets de-iced at DFW Airport during a February 2015 ice storm. The carrier was fined $1.6 million for three-plus hour delays on six flights sitting on DFW’s tarmac during the 2015 storm. Star-Telegram

American Airlines was hit with a $1.6 million fine for failing to allow passengers to deplane from flights that were delayed for more than three hours.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said American violated the tarmac delay rule that says airlines must give passengers the opportunity to get off of a plane that has been delayed for more than three hours. The government also requires airlines to provide adequate food and water during lengthy delays.

The Fort Worth-based carrier had six flights at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport during a winter storm on Feb. 27, 2015, and one flight at Shreveport Regional Airport on Oct. 22, 2015, that were delayed more than three hours. The rule was also violated by US Airways, which has since merged with American, on 20 flights at Charlotte Airport on Feb. 16, 2013.

“Our tarmac rule is meant to prevent passengers from being trapped in aircraft on the ground for hours on end,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “We will continue to take enforcement action as necessary to ensure passengers are not kept delayed on the tarmac for lengthy periods of time.”

According to the DOT investigation, US Airways and its regional carriers failed to take preventive measures to avoid the tarmac delays. In the case of DFW Airport, American did not adequately prepare for the weather.

American will receive credit for $602,000 it gave to compensate passengers on the affected flights, as well as $303,000 spent on purchasing new equipment at Charlotte and DFW airports. The credits reduce the fine to $695,000.

“We are pleased to have this matter resolved,” American spokesman Matt Miller said. “Every situation is a learning opportunity, and we remain committed to taking care of our customers.”

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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