Airlines turned down for exemption from 3-hour tarmac limit

WASHINGTON - (AP) - When the government bans airlines next weekfrom keeping passengers waiting longer than three hours on thetarmac, it will apply to all airlines.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he's turned downrequests from five airlines for temporary exemptions to the rule.He says it's an "important consumer protection" that should"take effect as planned."

JetBlue had asked to be exempted for its operations at NewYork's Kennedy Airport until the airport's main runway reopens inJuly. There were similar requests from Delta and American.Continental wanted an exemption at LaGuardia, and US Airways wantedone in Philadelphia. They said otherwise, large numbers of flightswould have to be canceled, causing an even greater inconvenience topassengers.

American says it's glad the Transportation Departmentacknowledged the "unique challenges" at Kennedy Airport. Thedepartment said it would consider the runway closure when decidingwhether to fine airlines for violating the rule.

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