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No lengthy airline delays reported for second straight month

January 11, 2011 | 11:25 am

LAX photo For the second straight month, the nation's largest airlines reported no flight delays lasting more than three hours, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported Tuesday.

Since the federal government adopted hefty fines in April for airlines that strand passengers on a runway, the nation's airline industry has been diligent about eliminating such postponements.

Airlines that strand passengers on a delayed flight for more than three hours without letting them off the plane can be fined up to $27,500 per passenger. So far, the federal government has investigated several delays but has imposed no fines.

The airline industry reported no delays of more than three hours in October and November of 2010 -- an achievement never recorded since the Department of Transportation began keeping track of tarmac delays in 2008.

In the seven months after the fines were introduced, the airlines reported only 12 total tarmac delays of more than three hours, compared with 550 during the same seven-month period of 2009.

The percentage of flights canceled in November 2010 increased slightly, to .7% from .5% in the same period in 2009, according to the Department of Transportation.

Still, the latest airline statistics show that the number of complaints against the airlines continues to grow. In November, the federal agency received 636 complaints against domestic and foreign airlines, compared with 537 complaints in the same month in 2009. Most of the complaints in November involved problems with baggage, flight delays and customer service.

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: Flights land and depart at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times