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British Airways Penalized for Long Tarmac Delays

Published April 10th, 2014 by Jean Chaintreuil

The Transportation Department has assessed a fine of $225,000 on British Airways for allegedly violating the tarmac delay rule on two U.S.-London flights in November 2012.

Half the amount is payable immediately, and half will be waived if the carrier refrains from similar violations for one year.

The first of the two incidents occurred during a winter storm that caused numerous delays and cancellations, and required BA’s Newark-London flight to get de-iced several times while waiting to take off. The flight eventually departed five hours and 34 minutes late. There were 187 passengers aboard.

The DOT said BA failed to give passengers an opportunity to deplane after four hours.

The second incident concerned a mechanical delay on a Boston-London flight with 329 passengers. After pushing back, the aircraft returned to the terminal for a mechanical problem and sat at the gate for four hours with the door open before it was eventually canceled.

The airline said it served food and beverages during the delay and provided meals and hotel accommodations after the flight was canceled, but the DOT said the airline failed to announce to passengers that they had the opportunity to deplane during the time the aircraft was parked with the door open.

According to the consent order issued by the DOT, BA expressed the view that penalties under the rule should be assessed per flight rather than per passenger, but it agreed to settle without conceding or waiving its legal position on that question.

~~ Bill Poling

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