DOT tackles flow of flight delay data

The Transportation Department Monday announced a task force to set up a

system for getting quick, accurate information on flight delays and cancellations

to airline industry workers who deal directly with passengers.

Information flow was cited as one of the major challenges in a recent

inspector general report focusing on consumer service initiatives by the

airlines, according to DOT Secretary Rodney Slater. He was commenting after

a summit with airline industry stakeholders, including airline owners and

employee organizations.

Often, even though the cause of a delay or cancellation is known, wrong

information is relayed to the public because an accurate explanation failed

to reach front-line employees.

"That's a very significant challenge, and a lot of technology needs

to be brought to bear on it," said Donald Carty, chairman of American Airlines.

Francisco Sanchez, DOT's newly appointed assistant secretary for aviation

and international affairs, will head the effort and will issue a report

by the end of September.

By the end of this week, Sanchez's office will have identified all of

the possible sources for identifying best practices in relaying information — including the airlines, airports, employee unions and consumer groups — and will set up a timetable for making the best practices available to

the industry, he said.

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