PORT OF SPAIN — The Trinidad and Tobago-owned Caribbean Airlines, has been fined US$100,000 for violating United States federal rules after it prevented passengers from disembarking from one of its planes delayed on the tarmac at the John F Kennedy International Airport last August.
The United States Department of Transportation said the plane was delayed for more than four hours and that CAL “failed to provide customers with food and water until almost four hours after the plane left the gate during the tarmac delay”.
The DOT ordered the carrier to “cease and desist from further violations.
“Passengers have rights when they fly, including the opportunity to leave a plane during a long tarmac delay and to access food and water,” US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
“DOT’s tarmac delay rules were put into place to ensure that passengers are treated with respect when they travel, and we will continue to work to ensure that airlines treat their customers fairly,” he added.
LaHood said that under DOT rules, foreign airlines operating aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats that fly to and from US airports are prohibited from allowing their aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than four hours without giving passengers on board an opportunity to leave the plane.
He said exceptions to the time limits are allowed only for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons. There is a three-hour limit for tarmac delays on domestic flights, he said.
For all flights delayed on the tarmac, airlines are also required to provide adequate food and water no later than two hours after an aircraft leaves the gate or lands, unless the pilot-in-command determines that it cannot provide these services for safety or security reasons, LaHood said.
He said that on August 15, 2012, Caribbean Airlines flight 421 from New York’s JFK Airport to Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport was scheduled to depart JFK at 2:55 p.m. and arrive at 9:25 p.m.
But the flight was delayed due to poor weather conditions. (CMC)