The Transportation Department says stiff new fines for tarmac delays won't result in widespread cancellations and travel disruptions, as some airline executives have warned. "Carriers have it within their power to schedule their flights more realistically, to have spare aircraft and crews available to avoid cancellations, to ensure that their crews do not come up against flight and duty time limitations when tarmac delays occur, and to place passengers on other carriers' flights when flights must be [canceled] for whatever reason," according to the government. But aviation consultant Darryl Jenkins says simple economics would suggest that more cancellations are inevitable: A typical flight might generate just $20,000 in revenue, he says, while penalties for lengthy tarmac delays can reach $27,000 for a single passenger. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly is asking for clarity in the rule's application: "We need to have clarity on how this is going to be applied and not leave it to interpretation, because the fines are so steep."
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