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Feds blame Mesaba Airlines for Rochester tarmac mess

You remember that story a couple of weeks back about the airline passengers who were stuck on the tarmac in Rochester overnight?

The Express Jet flight was connecting passengers for Continental, but it turns out Delta/Northwest subsidiary Mesaba Airlines was to blame.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote about the conclusion of the department's investigation on its blog today:

The local representative of Mesaba Airlines—the only carrier in a position to help the stranded planeimproperly refused the requests of the ExpressJet captain to let her passengers off the plane, telling the captain that the airport was closed to passengers for security reasons.

This is what led to the nightmare for those stuck on the plane.

The Mesaba rep said this apparently because there was no one from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) available to screen passengers. But, in fact, TSA procedures allow passengers to get off the plane, enter the terminal and re-board without being screened again as long as they remain in a secure area.

MPR's News Cut blog has audio of the flight crew's conversation with headquarters. (More: Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Associated Press)

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Comments (1)

This is an example of what happens when airfields are monopolized. Mesaba has no independent systems operations at either Rochester or Minneapolis and everywhere "Mesaba" was named in the story ought to have been "Delta/NWA." Delta CEO Anderson's apology to Continental Express is unconvincing, because no Delta/NWA/Mesaba help was offered in Rochester and their systems people tended first to NWA flights in both cities. It is likely that delays and all responses to delays at MSP were influenced by Delta/NWA the whole time.