The U.S. Transportation Department once again has moved the goalposts on its eagerly anticipated and hotly disputed Enhancing Passenger Protections III notice of proposed rulemaking, this time to Nov. 30 from Aug. 10.
The proposals, which, among other provisions, could require airlines to display ancillary fees through GDSs in which they participate, now is more than 10 months behind the initial schedule outlined by DOT.
As explanation for the postponement, DOT noted that it is "awaiting development of additional data," the same reason cited for the prior delay, which shifted public filing of the initial rulemaking to August from April.
As feared by some of those advocating for the GDS fee provision, the fate of the rulemaking won't be known until well after the November elections.
The proposals have been festering in Washington for even longer than that initial scheduling order, as DOT's efforts to regulate ancillary fee disclosures through GDSs first were revealed in summer 2010.
After deferring a decision on the matter as part of its second batch of "Enhancing Airline Passenger Protection" regulations, DOT expected to publicly propose rules on Jan. 6, 2012.
The Beat on Thursday reported that DOT had contracted HDR Decision Economics to conduct by August an economic impact analysis of the potential rules.
While that article cited a previous timeline, which appears as current in DOT's latest monthly "Report on Significant Rulemakings," Business Travel Coalition Chairman Kevin Mitchell pointed out the new timeframe. A DOT spokesman confirmed the latest postponement.
"The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to protecting the rights of consumers when they travel by air, and we intend to issue our new proposed airline consumer rule late fall of this year," according to the spokesman. "Because there are complex issues being addressed in this rulemaking, additional time is needed for this analysis."
If previous DOT rulemakings are a guide, Mitchell now estimates that the rules would take effect no earlier than November 2013.
The notice of proposed rulemaking would kick off a public comment period, scheduled through Feb. 7, 2013, which would be followed by further DOT examination, a review by the Office of Management and Budget and an eventual final ruling. Source: The Beat