Transportation Department figures show five flights in May violated a new federal limit on tarmac delays, and regulators will now determine how much -- if anything -- to fine the offending airlines. Four of the delays were caused by storms at Denver International Airport, while thunderstorms in Atlanta were to blame in the fifth case. The delays ranged from 3 hours and 2 minutes to 4 hours and 41 minutes. Regulators must now determine whether the long delays were justified due to safety or ATC concerns. Potential fines could be as high as $27,500 per passenger. Otherwise, extended delays for May -- the first full month under the new federal rule limiting delays -- fell to their second-lowest level on record. However, the Air Transport Association says the threat of fines was not the reason for the plunge in tarmac delays, but rather good weather and hard work by the industry. "The number of lengthy tarmac delays has been in decline over a year," a spokesman notes.
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