The tarmac delay rule the Department of Transportation put into action on April 29 appears to be making the difference we intended to protect airline passengers. And I'm pleased to see that there have been few unintended consequences.
In August 2009, passengers in the US endured 66 different tarmac delays of more than three hours. This year? That number was down to just one, a decrease of more than 98%.
And, during the four months of May through August this year, passengers were stuck in extended tarmac delays only eight times, down from 529 during the same period in 2009, also a drop of more than 98%.
I call that a dramatic improvement.
These numbers show that our recent tarmac delay rule is working--and passengers are being given options in the event of unanticipated delays. With the busy summer travel season behind us, it seems the rule is working as planned.
But these numbers demonstrate something else worth highlighting: our nation's airlines are doing their part.
The bulk of the turnaround is a testament to the hard work the airlines are putting into managing the new rule. And I thank them for their efforts to improve service for passengers. It's difficult to imagine the positive results we've noted without the commitment they've shown.
Now, it may be too soon to declare victory for aviation consumers--we know that winter weather often presents its own challenges to our aviation system.
But this was a landmark rule for airline passengers. And the sharp drop in lengthy tarmac delays during the last four months combined with no significant increase in flight cancellations is a sign it's working as we intended it to.
We'll keep watching the data in the coming months to make sure this positive trend continues. Because we believe the flying public has fundamental rights, and we're going to make sure those rights are respected.