Money Matters - Simplified

Department of Transportation

U.S. airlines slash tarmac delays sharply

Washington -- U.S. airline delays leaving passengers stranded on runways dropped sharply in August compared to a year ago, the Department of Transportation said.

In August 2009, there were 66 flights with passengers were stranded in planes for more than 3 hours, the DOT said. In August 2010, there was only one such incident, the department said Tuesday.

U.S. airlines made the improvement without any change in the rate of canceled flights, which could have affected the data.

The lone flight delay that left passengers stranded past the DOT maximum was a United Airlines flight leaving San Juan, Puerto Rico, that was a diverted flight.

Rest area closed due to bear

Elma, Wash. -- A rest area in Elma, Wash., was closed due to the presence of a black bear in a nearby tree, state transportation officials said.

Kelly Stowe of the state Department of Transportation said the Highway 8 rest area was closed at 5 p.m. Sunday due to the bear's position in a tree between the parking area for trucks and the restrooms, KOMO-TV, Seattle, reported Tuesday.

"The bear is still there," Stowe said. "It's up in a tree, and so our maintenance crews are out -- they've cordoned off the area."

The state Department of Fish & Wildlife said officers can't remove the bear because it could fall from the tree and injure itself if hit with a tranquilizer dart.

Toyota expected to pay $16.4mn penalty

After being levied a record fine of $16.4 million for delaying in informing the government about the problem of sticky gas pedals, and unintended acceleration, Toyota is expected to agree to pay the penalty to the Department of Transportation, according to a government official.

British Airways, American Airlines alliance wins US approval

In a move that will deepen their transatlantic alliance, American Airlines and British Airways have received tentative approval from the U.S. regulators to co-operate on transatlantic flights.

Dog found two days after airport escape

Anchorage, Alaska -- The Alaska Department of Transportation said a dog that escaped from its kennel at an Anchorage airport was recaptured two days later.

Roger Wetherell, a spokesman for Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport, said the Australian miniature shepherd, Fesgahi, escaped from its kennel about 3 p.m. Monday while it was being unloaded from an Alaska Airlines flight. The dog was discovered by airport police and wildlife officials at about 2 a.m. Thursday, the Anchorage Daily News said Friday.

Wetherell said the dog was found in some brush near the airport's fire station and its owner was called to coax the canine out of its hiding place. The spokesman said the 10-month-old dog appeared to be in good health.

Sleeping worker fights firing

Raleigh, N.C. -- A former North Carolina Department of Transportation worker who was fired after sleeping on the job five times has filed a complaint with the state.

Elsie Hinton, who was fired from her position as an artist in the department's communications office after she was caught sleeping on the job for the fifth time in July, claims in her complaint with the state Office of Administrative Hearings that she dozed off in her workplace because she suffers from sleep apnea and had been missing sleep due to a malfunctioning breathing mask, the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer reported Wednesday.

Her complaint alleges discrimination based on a "handicapping condition."
State documents indicate that Hinton's firing was also related to accusations that she used a department van without approval.