The new regulations impose brutal fines$27,500 per passengerif overseas flights get stuck on the tarmac for more than four hours. Because the airline industry in general is doing great, and it's not like we want to make it easy for companies to fly to and from the United States, so why not?
Airplanes have to stay on the tarmac to hold their place in line. If they return to the gate and leave again they have to start all the way in the back. Before tarmac regulation, pilots would try to stay in line as long as possible with the hope of eventually taking off. After tarmac regulations, pilots err on the side of cautionthe fines are, after all, designed to be enormousand return to the gate.
Before, a pilot who had been stuck on the runway for two hours would gamble on maybe taking off in the next 30 minutes. Now that same pilot can't take the chance and has to go back to the gate, resetting the clock. The result is more delays and cancellations. So the only thing keeping this brilliant idea from working is the fundamental nature of mathematics. Get rid of that and we're good to go.
So incoherent are these regulations that the people who advocated them couldn't even defend them. When you asked government regulators how airlines were supposed to survive under the new laws at the beginning, they actually promised not to enforce the rules, which was supposed to avoid mass cancellations. Airlines obviously couldn't take that risk, so what did government regulators do? They started spinning journalists to write about how mass cancellations were actually good, because at least people weren't stuck on runways any more. They're making this up as they go along.
Of course regulators have the luxury of making up excuses from the comfort of their offices. The rest of us are stuck, delayed or cancelled, in crowded terminals for hours or days at a time.