NEW YORK — Three planes sat on the tarmac for more than three hours in June, compared with 268 a year earlier, the government said yesterday.
All three planes were operated by United Airlines, and each topped the three-hour maximum by five minutes or less. All were flying out of Chicago on the same day, June 18, when thunderstorms and strong winds battered the area. United later canceled two of the three flights.
United said the weather prevented employees from safely loading and unloading aircraft at a few points during the day. The airline said it gave passengers on the flights food, drinks, and regular updates. It also compensated customers on the canceled flights. All those steps are required by the Department of Transportation.
Airlines canceled 1.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in June, the same as a year before and slightly higher than the 1.2 percent rate in May.
There were five flights that were delayed past the three-hour mark in May, the first month fines were in effect for tarmac delays. Four of those were United flights.
All were delayed on the same day, at the same airport, because of bad weather. The fifth flight stuck for more than three hours was operated by Delta, which also blamed bad weather.
The Transportation Department has not decided whether to fine the offending airlines. The maximum fine is $27,500 per passenger, which could add up to $5 million or more for a fully packed airplane, but the DOT rarely imposes maximum fines.
Airlines had an overall on-time rate in June of 76.4 percent, compared with 76.1 percent in the same month last year.