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By Minyvonne Burke and Jay Blackman
Two major US airlines were fined heavily on Thursday for making passengers wait in planes on the tarmac for longer than those permitted by federal regulations.
American Airlines was fined $ 1 million after the Department of Transportation discovered that between December 2015 and January 2017, 10 of its domestic flights and three international flights remained on the tarmac at various US airports. beyond the deadline, indicated the DOT on its Internet site.
According to the federal rule, passengers can not stay more than three hours on a tarmac on domestic flights without having the opportunity to disembark. Passengers on international flights can not stay on their tarmac for more than four hours.
American Airlines has broken the rule twice in 2015, nine times in 2016 and twice in 2017.
The latest incidents in January 2017 occurred on two flights diverted to airports other than those to which they were heading. In both cases, the Americans "did not offer passengers the opportunity to disembark," said DOT.
In a statement included in the DOT report, American told the agency "that she takes very seriously her responsibility to meet all the requirements of the department", but also tries to get travelers at their intended destination rather than landing them at the deviated place.
Delta Air Lines was fined $ 750,000 after 11 flights left on the tarmac longer than expected between January 2017 and February 2018, according to the federal agency.
Seven flights were left on the tarmac for more than three hours in January 2017 due to a system crash at an airport in Atlanta. In December of the same year, a Delta flight was left on the Atlanta tarmac for nearly four hours.
Passengers on three separate flights in February 2018 were only allowed off their aircraft at least three hours after arriving at the boarding gate.
The two airlines will receive US $ 450,000 in fines for "compensation for passengers," said DOT.