The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) applauded the timely and effective leadership and action by Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in levying precedent-setting fines for the extended tarmac-delay event in Rochester, MN on August 8, 2009. "After 10 years of increasing awareness of the serious nature of excessive tarmac delays, the DOT is finally using the bully pulpit and its statutory authority to protect the rights of the traveling public," the BTC said.
The DOT levied a fine of $100,000 against Continental Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines, and a $75,000 penalty against Mesaba Airlines. These enforcement actions follow consent orders reflecting violations established by DOT and are based upon unfair and deceptive practices in air transportation, the BTC said.
"This is extraordinary and very welcome leadership from Secretary LaHood," stated BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell. "BTC has been testifying since 1999 that more aggressive leadership and enforcement from DOT, combined with serious reform by the airlines at the industry level, would avoid the need for Congressional intervention with passenger rights legislation. We are heartened that DOT will include lessons-learned in its investigation to strengthen flyers’ rights in its final rule. Hopefully, this will be the catalyst the airlines need to finally move to addresses this festering problem."