Tarmac delays approaching or exceeding twenty-four hours are associated with the diversion of a large number of aircraft on September 11, 2001, and the diversion of distressed aircraft in emergency situations to the closest available airport. Very significant tarmac delays may arise where the airport to which the flight is diverted is distant from the flight’s point of origin, its destination, and the airline’s home base. In cases such as these, holding the airline responsible for the duration of the delay, especially in cases where the duration is beyond the airline’s control, is not reasonable. This Article examines dozens of tarmac delay cases and over sixty diversions to the isolated airports of Gander, Goose Bay, and Stephenville, in order to understand the degree to which airlines may have control over the duration of those tarmac delays that are not covered by the United States or any other tarmac delay rule. It then makes recommendations with respect to border clearance issues and the inauguration of “no-man’s lands” at certain major airports. It concludes that in a world of climate change, where more weather events will affect major airports, smarter and more adaptive government policies are required so that airlines are only made responsible for those things that are under their control.
P. Paul Fitzgerald, A Re-Examination of Tarmac Delays Causes and Solutions, 84 J. Air L. & Com. 53 (2019).