Another Unintended Consequence of Government Meddling

In typical fashion, the government meddles in an issue and makes things worse. Beginning April 29th, if an airline keeps its passengers delayed on the tarmac for more than 3 hours, it will be fined $27,500 per passenger. Naturally, airlines would like to stay in business, so they have found a way to get around the fines:

Passengers may soon be seeing more cancellations on airport departure boards.

Several airlines, including Fort Worth-based American and Houston-based Continental, say they will cancel flights rather than risk paying stiff penalties for delaying passengers on the runway.

Continental’s CEO told investors Tuesday that the airline will opt to cancel flights rather than chance being fined.

“I think all of them will cancel flights,” he said. “They’ll do it partially because they think they are going to punish passengers, and if they punish them, someone will get this legislation removed.”

Aviation consultant Denny Kelly expects other airlines to follow suit…

Under new federal guidelines that take effect next month, airlines can be fined up to $27,500 per passenger if a plane is stuck on the tarmac for longer than three hours…With the new fines, a delayed MD-80 could cost American Airlines close to $4 million, and a fine for a full 757 could cost more than $5 million.

“It’s unavoidable that more flights will be canceled to avoid fines,” said American Airlines spokesman Steve Schlachter. “It’s one of the unintended consequences of a bill that has no flexibility.”

A US Transportation spokesperson retorted that if airlines just kept spare aircraft and crew nearby and available in case of scheduling conflicts they could avoid delays. Spoken like a guy who has never run a profitable business. Sure, airlines have so much money to throw around they can keep spare aircraft and crews in every airport in case of delays.

And by the way, these fines are not to be paid to passengers for the inconvenience and discomfort of being stuck in a cramped airline for more than three hours. No, the fines are paid to the government.

From Repubclic.

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