Airlines request pass on April flight delays

By Bill Poling
The airlines are asking the Transportation Department for a pass on April flight delays, saying they shouldn’t be held accountable for delays that were caused by the temporary furlough of air traffic controllers.

At issue is a provision in the DOT’s rules that defines a “chronically delayed flight” as one that is more than 30 minutes late more than 50% of the time during any one month.

If a flight is found to be chronically late for four consecutive months, the airline can face enforcement action for unrealistic scheduling.

In a petition to the DOT on Wednesday, Airlines for America and the Regional Airline Association said the DOT should exclude all April delays from its database because the federal budget sequester disrupted air traffic control between April 21 and 28.

The carriers said the large number of flights that were disrupted during that week were not “chronically” delayed in the usual sense, but were “delayed for a specific and unique government cause.”

The carriers said the DOT should waive the rule for the entire month of April “to recognize the significant impact that the furlough week had on each airline’s overall arrival performance” for the month.

Describing their proposal as “narrowly tailored,” the airlines acknowledged that their suggestion would mean resetting the four-month clock on chronic delays to the beginning of May.
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