USA’s Department of Transportation (DoT) reportedly fined ExpressJet, Continental Airlines and Mesaba Airlines USD175,000 for an incident where 47 passengers were held in an ExpressJet aircraft for approximately six hours at Rochester in Aug-2009, following a landing due to thunderstorms on flight 2816 (The Washington Post, 01-Dec-2009). ExpressJet and Continental were fined USD100,000 and Mesaba Airlines was fined USD75,000. During the six hour period, the toilets ceased functioning and refreshments ran out. ExpressJet’s "Customer First" agreement with Continental Airlines states it will disembark passengers within three hours, while Mesaba Airlines had informed the aircraft’s pilots that passengers would be able to disembark upon arrival at Rochester.
DoT fines ExpressJet, Continental Airlines and Mesaba Airlines for Rochester incident
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Norwegian Air's NAI awaits final approval of US rights. Credibility of US-EU open skies is at stake
All objections and further comments on the tentative grant of a US foreign air carrier permit to Norwegian's Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) by the Department of Transportation (DoT), on 15-Apr-2015, have now been made. Not surprisingly, a number of labour organisations and some US senators filed to reiterate their opposition. Many supportive comments were also received.
The opponents' central contention is that NAI's business model contravenes the US-EU open skies agreement's Article 17 bis, aimed at upholding labour standards. This is merely a retread of the argument rejected by the legal counsels of the DoT and the US State Department, and by the Office of Legal Counsel. Some also repeat the unfounded claim that NAI poses a threat to safety. Both positions forget that NAI's employment and safety regulations are those of Ireland, an EU nation. They also forget that NAI will create new jobs in the US and EU.
It would be remarkable if the DoT were to reverse its tentative approval, reached after more than two years of deliberation. The US-EU agreement was designed to stimulate competition, to the benefit of consumers. Approval for NAI is essential to its ongoing credibility. A final decision now awaits.