Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
|For Immediate Release: |
April 22, 2010
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553
Boxer, Snowe Laud Transportation Officials' Decision to Deny Exemptions from Tarmac Rules
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) today lauded Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for upholding airline passenger protections set to take effect April 29th by denying several airlines’ requests to receive exemptions from the new rule because of planned construction and other disruptions on the East Coast.
Senator Boxer said, “This is great news for the flying public. The Department of Transportation’s decision sends a strong message to airlines that airport construction and other disruptions are no excuse to hold passengers captive on airplanes for hours on end. We must continue to strengthen protections for passengers by getting the Boxer-Snowe Airline Passenger Bill of Rights signed into law.”
Senator Snowe said, “I commend Secretary LaHood and the U.S. Department of Transportation for rejecting this astonishing request by airlines for an exemption from the requirements of the Passenger Bill of Rights, now reflected in the agency’s tarmac rules. It is imperative airlines take responsibility for the safety and security of their passengers and this ruling sends a strong signal to the flying public that they no longer will become prisoners in the event of a lengthy delay, nor will their safety be compromised to meet an airline’s bottom line.”
Starting April 29, the Department of Transportation rule will allow passengers the option of deplaning an aircraft if it has been stranded for more than three hours on the tarmac. The rule was modeled after Senator Boxer and Senator Snowe’s Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, which recently passed the Senate 93-0 as part of the broader Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.
Even before the new rule had taken effect, five airlines sought exemptions from it at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. As justification, the airlines cited construction that will close the main runway at Kennedy Airport.
The Department of Transportation today announced that inadequate justification exists for granting the requested exemption from the tarmac delay requirements. More information about the DOT decision is available at http://airconsumer.dot.gov/whatsnew.htm.