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Continental Also Seeks JFK Tarmac Delay Exemption

Continental is the fourth airline to seek an exemption at JFK airport from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) new tarmac delay rules. JetBlue, Delta, and American have all requested temporary exemptions at JFK while the airport’s biggest and busiest runway is closed.

Only thing is, Continental doesn’t actually fly from JFK.

Continental is worried that delays at JFK will snarl operations at New York’s other airports, LaGuardia and Newark, the latter of which is a major hub for Continental. According to the Associated Press, “Continental said if JetBlue and Delta win exemptions from the delay penalties, it’s only fair that airlines at LaGuardia and Liberty get the same break.”

Here’s my question: You want some cheese with that whine?

Leaving aside for a moment whether or not the DOT’s rules are a good idea (a question we’ve addressed at length), the simple fact is that Continental’s argument basically means any airline at any airport could request a stay of execution due to the JFK situation. If Continental can ask for an exemption at Newark, why not United at O’Hare, or JetBlue at Boston?

The rules weren’t designed to be convenient. Like them or hate them, they were designed to force the airlines to reckon with a situation that is, in fact, quite inconvenient for consumers. I have sympathy for airlines flying into and out of JFK, and no real issue with the DOT temporarily waiving restrictions for those airlines’ operations at those airports. But for Continental to use the JFK construction project to essentially wage a proxy war against a policy it doesn’t like is just weak. Perhaps a better use of the airline’s time would be coming up with an actual alternative to the DOT’s rules, or a solution to the rare but certainly unwelcome problem of tarmac delays.

Readers, what do you think? Should Continental receive leniency, or should the DOT say “tough luck”?

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