US Airways outlines new policies for tarmac delay rule

Washington DC
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US Airways has already instituted new procedures to comply with a tarmac delay rule due to take effect in the USA on 29 April.

Regulators created the rule after several high-profile incidents during the last couple of years left passengers stranded on tarmacs for extended periods of time. It prohibits US airlines operating domestic flights from remaining on a tarmac for more than 3h without deplaning passengers.

In its latest employee update US Airways says it has created a new policy requiring an aircraft to return to the gate if it remains on the taxiway for 2.5h and takeoff is not imminent.

The carrier is now practising the new policy.

"Unfortunately, this mandate requires return within three hours and will be taxing on crew time," says US Airways. "Crews may time out, and thus it is anticipated that more cancellations may occur as a result."

American, Delta and JetBlue have asked for an exemption from the rule during a 120-day construction project on JFK's main runway that stared 10 March.

Airlines serving JFK have reduced their schedules during the closure of the runway for construction.

Continental Airlines has also asked for an exemption, arguing the disruption caused by the JFK runway closure would spill over to its operations at Newark and LaGuardia airports.

Rounding out the requests for exemptions is US Airways. The carrier tells regulators that Philadelphia should be exempted from the rule since it shares the same air traffic control centre as the New York area airports, and it faces congestion challenges at Philadelphia similar to those experienced by carriers serving New York airports.