The traveling public took a hit from a federal appeals court
decision rejecting a New York
state law—the first in the nation—requiring airlines to provide the basics of
food, water, toilets and fresh air to passengers confined in a plane delayed on
the tarmac. The decision may force Congressional action.
Will Congress act to require airlines to provides necessities for passengers when delayed on the tarmac?
The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that New York’s new state law
interferes with federal laws governing the airlines. The court said the new law
was laudable, and the circumstances that brought it about were deplorable, The
Associated Press reports, but only the federal government has the authority to
enact such a law.
The New York law was
challenged by the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry
group representing leading U.S.
airlines. The ATA argued that state legislation of airline services is
preempted by federal law.
“The court’s decision vindicates the position of the ATA and
the airlines—that airline services are regulated by the federal government and
that a patchwork of laws by states and localities would be impractical and
harmful to consumer interests,” the ATA said in a statement. “This clear and
decisive ruling sends a strong message to other states that are considering
The ATA also opposes California’s
similar proposed state legislation and quotes the Airline Deregulation Act,
“States may not enact or enforce a law, regulation or other provision having
the force and effect of law, related to a price, route or service of an air carrier...”
The California legislation, like New York’s statute, is
clearly preempted by federal law, the ATA says.