NEW YORK (Tweet BaBa) – In 2017, British Airways‘ failure to ensure timely deplaning of passengers during a tarmac delay resulted in a penalty of $135,000 by the U.S. Transportation Department (USDOT). As part of the settlement, the airline, owned by IAG (ICAG.L), agreed to cease and desist from future violations of this kind. The penalty includes a payment of $67,500 within 30 days and the rest within a year, should the airline violate the order.
The penalty followed a December 2017 flight from Austin, Texas, to London in which passengers were stranded on the tarmac for more than four hours in poor weather without being given a chance to exit the plane. British Airways told USDOT that the delay was caused by the deicing truck running out of fluid.
British Airway has not yet commented on the penalty. However, it told USDOT that it did not believe the incident called for enforcement action by USDOT but agreed to the settlement “in the interest of resolving this proceeding.”
In January, USDOT announced its intention to impose higher penalties on airlines and others who violate consumer protection rules, saying that this was necessary to deter future violations.
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Under a 2011 rule, airlines are prohibited from allowing domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours and international flights for more than four hours at U.S. airports without giving passengers the opportunity to deplane.
The penalty imposed on British Airways is a reminder that airlines must comply with the tarmac delay rule to avoid facing financial penalties.