An end to tarmac delays

When the government imposed new rules and the threat of fines to thwart the kind of tarmac delays that stranded ExpressJet passengers in Rochester, Minn., last year, experts feared the law of unintended consequences. They theorized that airlines would, instead, cancel flights, leaving passengers stranded either way.

The latest data from the Department of Transportation shows that hasn’t happened, at least not yet.

The only tarmac delays longer than three hours reported in June by the 18 airlines who file on-time performance with DOT involved three United Airlines flights departing Chicago’s O’Hare airport on June 18, a day in which the Chicago area experienced a severe thunderstorm, the report said.

And the airlines canceled 1.5 percent of their flights in June, a figure that is the same as June 2009, before the new rules were imposed.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics released its list of chronically delayed flights. None involved the Twin Cities.