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Chronically Late Flights|Are Unfair Competition

WASHINGTON (CN) - In response to many instances of passengers having been delayed on the tarmac for long periods, the high incidence of flight delays, and other consumer problems, the Department of Transportation has issued a regulation to protect passengers.

In the regulation, the Transportation Department has deemed chronically delayed flights of large passenger airlines to be deceptive to consumers, and unfair competition under U.S. Code. The department will use the airlines' monthly On-Time Flight Performance Reports to gauge flight delays. Delays will be considered chronic if a flight is operated at least 10 times in a month and arrives more than 30 minutes late (including cancelled flights) more than half of the time.

The department also will require airlines to adopt contingency plans for lengthy tarmac delays, adopt customer service plans, and respond to consumer problems. They carriers are to put the plans on their Web sites along with flight delays.

The rules go into effect April 29.

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