DoT: Long airport tarmac delays are down

Delays of three hours or longer on airport tarmacs are down since the implementation of new rules fining airlines for long waits, according to a report released Monday by the Department of Transportation.

Only one flight was reported to have been held a the runway for more than three hours in January, down from 20 in January of last year, the DoT report said.

January marked nine months since the new rules were implemented. The number of long waits decreased in that period — to 16 compared to 604 — from May 2009 to January 2010.

The aviation industry had argued when the rules were being considered by Congress that airlines would cancel more flights they might have eventually sent to their destinations in order to avoid the fines. But the DoT report found that 3.9 percent of flights were canceled In January 2011, despite snowstorms in much of the country, compared to 2.5 in January 2010 and 2.7 in December.

The full report is available here.