Tarmac delay (term that defines the airport apron ground area) means an extended time of wait on the ground for more than four (4) hours for international flights at any airport in the territory of the United States, both at departures and arrivals.
This time starts from the moment no passenger is allowed to leave the aircraft physically, because the door is closed or by a captain's decision. However, if the aircraft is parked at the gate with the doors open and the passengers are not allowed to leave the aircraft, the time counting starts at the moment the passengers are prohibited to disembark.
The US Department of Transportation has established rules to protect passengers in the event of tarmac delays, and GOL has adopted this contingency plan to deal with them.
Contingency plan for Tarmac Delays:
1. No international flight may remain on the tarmac at a US airport for more than 4 hours without allowing the passengers to disembark, except when:
• The captain determines that there is a reason related to safety or security why the aircraft may not leave its position on the tarmac for the passengers to disembark; or
• Air Traffic Control informs the captain that the return to the gate or to arrange for the disembarkation of the passengers at another place would significantly disrupt airport operations .
2. GOL shall assure that:
• There shall be adequate drinking water and food available no later than 2 hours after the aircraft leaves the gate during the departure or after the aircraft touches down during an arrival if the aircraft remains on the ground, except if the captain determines that safety or security problems prevent such services.
• There shall be operable lavatory facilities available for the time the aircraft remains on the tarmac, and adequate medical attention, if needed, shall be available for the time the aircraft remains on the tarmac.
3. Notice to the passengers:
• Every 30 minutes during the delay, the captain shall notify passengers of the status of the delay, including the cause of the delay if it is known.
• If the delay occurs when the aircraft is still in the embarkation position and the door is open, the passengers must be notified every 30 minutes, starting 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time, of the opportunity to disembark, if in fact that opportunity exists. If the door is open, dispatch may or may not disembark the passengers. If there are evidences that the flight will delay more than 4 hours, dispatch shall allow the passengers to disembark as per item 1.
• 4. GOL has assured that it has adequate resources available to implement this plan, and that it has coordinated this plan with the relevant airport authorities at its regular and diversion airports in the United States, the US Customs and Border Patrol and the US Transportation Security Administration.