Details of this longstanding incident were released Wednesday after the US Department of Transportation announced its decision to fine the airline a hefty sum for “failing to drop off passengers after the runway hit the four-hour mark.”< /p>
US law requires airlines to have a clear contingency plan for long runway delays. In most cases, carriers are required to allow passengers to leave the aircraft after a certain time.
For domestic flights, the maximum runway delay is three hours, for international flights it is four hours.
July 23, 2019, Eurowings Flight EW1182 from Düsseldorf to Miami was diverted to Fort Lauderdale after bad weather temporarily stopped flights near the destination airport.
After landing in Fort Lauderdale, the Eurowings plane was sent to a remote part of the airfield, where the crew requested permission to drop off passengers and take them by bus to the terminal building.
But customs and border control refused the carrier. The fact is that passengers are allowed to leave the board only with all checked baggage. When the plane landed at 17:14, there were no free loaders, so the passengers were forced to wait for developments in their seats.
Although Eurowings does not operate scheduled flights to Fort Lauderdale, the airline was able to hire movers about two hours after the delay, and passengers could be put on buses at approximately 19:15.
However, now the crew decided not to bother landing 268 travelers and instead preferred to wait out the storm that hit Miami, in the hope that the flight would soon continue.
The full plane remained on the ground for the next three and a half hours, until at 10:00 pm the crew was informed that Miami was still closed due to bad weather.
No wonder the passengers lost patience, and several people, on board called 911 in an attempt to secure their freedom. Eventually, the police arrived and forcibly freed the plane around 22:50.
Eurowings, a subsidiary of Germany's Lufthansa, said in response to a Deptrans investigation that the runway delay was the result of “forces outside its control”; and that customs “ripped off” all attempts to drop passengers due to baggage unloading requirements.
The airline also says it tried to call for backup crew but it took them 90 minutes to get to Fort Lauderdale Airport due to severe weather. Moreover, having already arrived at the airport, another hour and a half was spent going through standard screening procedures.
Eurowings did not agree with the DOT decision to impose a large civil fine, nevertheless, the airline signed the act to avoid another a larger fine.
In 2021, United Airlines was fined a record $1.9 million by DOT for a series of long runway delays between 2015 and 2020. In total, 3,218 passengers were affected by the delays, and 750,000 “penalties” were allocated for compensation in their favor. dollars.
In addition to allowing passengers to disembark, the airline must also provide them with food and water once the delay reaches two hours.