JetBlue: Only JFK deserves exemption from tarmac rule

By Michael Fabey

JetBlue said requested exemptions from the Department of Transportation's new three-hour tarmac-delay should be rejected if the request is not for New York's Kennedy Airport.

JetBlue maintains that its request for the exemption at Kennedy is legitimate because the airport's main runway is under construction, and that carriers seeking exemptions at other airports are "jumping on the bandwagon."

"Continental and US Airways have chosen to try jump on the bandwagon to bootstrap what they claim are related situations at LaGuardia, Newark and Philadelphia in an attempt to obtain relief from the three-hour tarmac delay rule," JetBlue said in a DOT comment filing on the exemption requests.

JetBlue argued that "granting relief at JFK is critical so that the purpose of the tarmac-delay rule — enhancing passenger protections — is not undermined by unforeseen circumstances."

The new rule, which requires airlines to allow passengers to get off planes stuck on the tarmac for three hours, takes effect April 29. Carriers face maximum fines of $27,500 per passenger, per flight for violations.

"A rigid and inflexible application of the rule will cause carriers to cancel flights rather than risk substantial penalties, to the detriment, not enhanced protection, of passengers who want to reach their destination," JetBlue said. "The first of six phases of the construction project on the Bay Runway began on March 1, and carriers at JFK have already experienced related delays."

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