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Push to disclose runway strandings

After a rash of incidents this year, a U.S. agency wants to require airlines to report such delays.

U.S. airlines may be forced to increase public disclosure of instances when passengers get stuck in planes on runways.

Some airlines do not disclose delays that occur from the time a plane leaves a gate and then returns, without taking off, the Transportation Department said in a statement yesterday. They instead report the second time the flight departs, making it appear there was no long delay, the department said.

There have been a rash of such incidents recently - and the approach "disguises inconveniences that the passengers endured," Donald Bright, of the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, said in a Federal Register notice.

He scheduled a meeting for June 20 with airlines to discuss a possible change in reporting requirements.

More disclosure might increase pressure on poor-performing carriers to improve, because consumers would have better data when making ticket-purchase decisions. Airlines now report many of their runway delays monthly to the government, which then discloses them to the public.

Runway delays drew more attention after a Feb. 14 ice storm in New York, when nine JetBlue Airways Corp. flights were stranded on the runway for more than five hours. AMR Corp.'s American Airlines had a combined 80 flights stranded more than three hours after Texas thunderstorms Dec. 29 and April 24.

The department's Federal Register notice did not say which airlines were reporting statistics that disguise passenger inconvenience.

The bureau also will discuss whether to require disclosure of runway delays tied to canceled flights, which are now excluded from government data, spokesman Dave Smallen said.