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2008 promises big penalties for late planes

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposals to address the major problem of flight delays. Now, we’re getting some specifics that I want to pass along.

Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters has announced a $25,000 fine for airlines that operate chronically late routes and don’t do anything to improve on-time arrivals. Finally, the airlines will face consequences beyond the chore of ignoring all those angry passengers’ complaints.

Will the financial penalty inspire the airlines to change their ways in 2008? If someone were going to charge me $25,000 for being late, I’d permanently set my watch an hour fast. But when airlines do the math, I hope they don’t find that it’s cheaper to pay the fine than get the planes there on time. As we come to the end of a particularly memorable year of delays, it’s good to see at least the possibility of improvement on the horizon.

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