An internal memo from airline management to workers blamed a communications breakdown between airport operations staff and air traffic controls for hours-long delays on the tarmac at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Saturday night.
The memo, obtained Wednesday by WCNC-TV, blamed two factors for the logjam during the snowstorm:
"First, air traffic control failed to post a ground stop early enough to keep airplanes away from CLT, and secondly, CLT airport operations and air traffic control had a communication breakdown relative to deicing and snow removal requirements."
Federal transportation officials are investigating what happened at the airport. Some passengers might have waited more than three hours, a violation of federal rules. And hundreds of travelers were stranded overnight at the airport because they missed connecting flights.
Federal aviation rules enacted three years ago, following an incident in which passengers on a jet sat for six hours on the tarmac at a Minnesota airport, limit the wait on domestic flights to three hours.
The airlines pay the penalty for violating the three-hour rule, and they can be fined $27,500 per passenger.