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Southwest Refuses To Pay  
User currently offlineClimbout From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2133 times:

Heard on the news this morning that Southwest is refusing to pay for the damages caused by one of their 737's that over shot the runway and hit a gas station last year. According to the city of Burbank, it cost over 40 thousand dollars for the city to clean up, and repair the damages. However, Southwest says it will not pay because the amount of taxes they pay to use the Burbank airport (over 1 million), is more than enough to compensate for the damages. Burbank says they'll continue to fight. Does any one have updates on this story? So do you think Southwest will end up having to pay?

ps. If this has already been discussed here, I apologize.

52 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 43
Reply 1, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 1851 times:

This is a tough one.
On one hand, with Southwest having been 120% at fault for this little incursion, perhaps they should be forced to pay because of negligence.

But on the other hand, they do have a valid point:
They pay taxes and insurance premiums to cover these little incidents.

This could get interesting.

If both sides wanted to play "hard ball" they both would ultimately lose.
Case in point: If Burbank forces them to pay (or at least refuses to drop the charges), then Southwest could very easily turn around and tell BUR that they are going to end service.

If Southwest were to pull out of BUR, that would be a devastating blow to BUR-all those pax suddenly left with no service. No PFC's, no parking, no one buying $3 Cokes.

But Southwest would also lose because they have a large customer base in the region.

This should get real interesting as it unfolds.

User currently offlineRominato From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 268 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 1784 times:

They should pay, IMO. It's their fault, they screwed up. If forced to pay,a nd they decide to pull back service, I'm sure the residents of Burbank wouldn't complain too loud... lots of folks there would rather see it shut down completely anyway. I sure wouldn't miss them there. It's just as easy to get to LAX from the valley via the Van Nuys Flyaway. Cheap, hassle free, great way to get where you want to go.

User currently offlineTupolev154B2 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1332 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 1760 times:

They should pay since it is a case of negligence.

User currently offlineKubla From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 1730 times:

I have to admit the first thing that went through my head when I heard this is, "Don't they have insurance?"

What does an airline's insurance cover - and more importantly, what doesn' it?

User currently offlineWN boy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 1730 times:

Tupolev, it is not negligence with regard to the city as Southwest does not owe a duty to the city of Burbank. Therefore, by overrunning the runway, Southwest did not breach a duty owed to the city thereby causing it damage (the definition of negligence).

It is my opinion that Southwest has a point. They pay PFC's and landing fees for the maintenance and improvement of airport facilities. What is this if not maintenance and improvement? As justification put forth by cities to increase the charges imposed upon airlines (and consequently, on passengers), the city asserts that it needs the money to repair its facilities that are damaged. That is why the money is there. Allowing the city to recover $40,000 from Southwest entitles the city to recover twice: once in the form of its $40,000 and once in the form of taxes it has already collected.

By way of analogy, if I fall asleep while driving along the Dallas North Tollway and run into a toll booth, am I financially responsible for damage done to that toll booth. I don't think so as I already paid my $0.75 toll that goes for the maintenance of the road. If I have to pay again, then refund me my damn 75 cents.

This is the same thing. If the city forces Southwest to pay for the damage, then it should be forced to refund all of the PFC's that it has collected in the past ostensibly to defray the cost of maintenance to its facilities as it is clear that that is not where the money goes.

User currently offlineKubla From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 1705 times:

WN Boy, I disagree with you. I think the Tollway is charging you 75 cents to cover the ordinary wear and tear you put on the road by normal driving, not to cover you smashing up a toll booth.

Obviously, they are going to have to start charging a much heftier toll if 75 cents gets everyone a free shot at toll booths, bridge abutments, guardrails, road signs, etc.

I think the same thing applies here: Southwest should be liable for the extra damage they caused the city above and beyond the normal wear and tear they put on the airport infrastructure in everyday operations. I can't imagine that when PFC revenue is allocated, somebody allows for an aircraft smashing through barriers and into a gas station every now and then.

But Southwest should also have insurance to cover this extra liability. Maybe they just don't want their premium to go up?

User currently offline777x From United States of America, joined Dec 2014, 432 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 1696 times:

Maint. does not imply damage caused above and beyond normal operational wear and tear as Kubla said.

Southwest better pay up.

User currently offlineWN boy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 1692 times:

As someone who has had more than one wreck on the fine thouroughfares of Texas, let me assure you that in fact you do get a free shot at the guardrail. Following my occasional high-speed encounters with road obstacles, I have never received a demand letter insisting that I pay for the damage done to the road.

If anyone has ever been asked by the city of Burbank, or even the state of California, to pay for damage they did to the road in a traffic accident, please speak up. But if, as I suspect, that such a thing would never occur, this seems to me to be a money grab by a city that thinks that a large corporation will pay for anything.

User currently offlineBoeingrulz From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 558 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 1680 times:
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As part of US Federal, state, and possibly municipal laws it would most certainly be Southwest's responsibility to pay for clean up of dangerous chemicals spills such as gasoline. At the minium they should be required to pay those costs.


User currently offlineHeavierthanair From Switzerland, joined Oct 2000, 1010 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 1667 times:


Filling up a gasguzzling 737 must be the business of the year for the owner of that particular gas station. At least you would expect the guy to mediate and try to resolve the apparent problems on hand. Would surely help to get repeat business.


"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." (Albert Einstein, 1879
User currently offlineBURules From United States of America, joined May 2000, 66 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 1659 times:

WN boy -- I would not be so fast to dub Burbank as a large corporation exploiter. One look at the ease with which Disney, Warner Brothers, and NBC pushed through expansion in the heavily residential Media District would show how Burbank has on the whole been very pro-business, certainly more so than Los Angeles proper.

However, the airport has been a different story, with the fight against Glendale and Pasadena towards expansion, complicated by the fact that noise affects the Burbank and North Hollywood area far more than those two cities.

In any case, one would have to sift through quite a bit of legal paperwork to determine who truly bears the cost here, but my gut would tell me that when your pilot is the one who plowed the plane through the fence, then perhaps paying for the clean-up would be the nice thing to do . . .but not that simple, I know.

User currently offlineClimbout From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 1639 times:

That's what I was thinking too. I think they should pay because it would indeed be the nice thing to do (after all, it was the pilots fault). Or, at least they can pay half of the bill, don't you think? They are probably going to have to pay damages to the injured lady who was in the car that the 737 hit. Either way you look at, Southwest was responsible for the mess. I think to maintain their friendly image, it would be better if they paid all or at least half the cost.

User currently offlineRominato From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 268 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 1618 times:


I don't think the guard rails are a good analogy. AFAIK, they are considered part of the road, and are included in the normal wear and tear maintenence that we pay for in taxes. Their PURPOSE is to keep errant cars within the usable parts of the road and away from potential danger.

Your original suggestion about the toll booth may be more to the point. It is not placed where it is with the expectation that it will recieve wear and tear from cars barrelling into it. My guess is that someone stupid enough to put themselves in a position where they plow down the booth will be responsible for property damage incurred. That, of course, is where private insurance comes in.

It can be argued that this wall was not placed there for the puprose of stopping errant airplanes whose pilots put them in a position to go through it. In essence, the pilots put themselves in the position of destroying property not reasonably expected to go through such wear and tear, by simply not going around.

I have a very hard time seeing how Southwest is not at fault in this matter...

User currently offlineKubla From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 1607 times:

WN Boy,

Good point about not getting a letter demanding the exact cost of roadside objects ruined with your car. But did you get a ticket? I know that when I had such an (ahem) encounter, I was speeding and I was cited for that. It may not have paid for all the damage to the guardrail but the fine still was a decent contribution to the county budget.

So maybe splitting the costs is an equitable way to go. After all, the plane was speeding at the end of the runway  Smile

User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3626 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 1597 times:

WN Boy --

Actually, I have a better analogy. People who negligently set fires, such as brush fires, are now charged with the cost of the fire crews that have to fight it. Even though the people may pay taxes that support the firefighters, if they are found to be negligently at fault (such as Southwest's pilot was), they are charged with the cost of clean-up.

This is a standard policy in most districts.

I think whether someone is charged is based on the fact of negligence. The pilot, in this case, was extremely negligent, entering the glide slope too high, trying to land to fast, ignoring warning signals, etc. etc.

As an agent of the company, the pilot made Southwest responsible. It was not weather or an act of God that crashed the plane. A negligent pilot did.

User currently offlineBOAT From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 59 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 1556 times:

Am I missing something here? This sounds like a mishap exclusively the fault of the crew, employees of Southwest. Same as if I caused damage to property from the operation of my eighteen wheelers. Lord knows I pay plenty in all kinds of taxes and licenses and assessments. I would be dreaming if I thought I could I could escape paying for damages caused by my drivers. To me this a no brainer. I say WN will eventually pay. BOAT

User currently offlineBoeing757fan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 1551 times:

I bet they could get a hold of Jimmy Carter and get a deal on peanuts and use the money they save on the peanuts to pay for the damages. WaTcHa ThInK?

User currently offlineWN boy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 1556 times:

Travelin Man, you are correct that some states now provide that people who start fires may be charged with the costs of the firefighting. Similarly, Yosemite National Park now has a rule that someone caught on El Capitan has to pay the cost of his own rescue. But the difference is that in those cases there is a specific statute or regulation providing for recovery by the state or entity involved. I am not aware of any federal, state, county, or municipal statute, regulation, or ordinance that specifically covers this situation. If a member of the California Bar has different information, please tell.

Climbout, I think that you are correct. The way that I took your original suggestion, and I suspect the way that Southwest's legal department took Burbank's, was as a demand that Southwest pay up or else. Legally, I am not certain that Burbank has a leg to stand on. As a "nice thing to do" and "good public relations," I would tend to agree that Southwest should pay at least some of the cost.

If, however, as I suspect, Burbank sent a nasty demand letter from their city attorney insisting that Southwest pay for the damage to the perimeter fence and the jet blast deflector, it is not surprising that this correspondence was forwarded to Southwest's lawyers. It is similarly not surprising that Southwest's lawyers answered the demand letter as lawyers often do: "go screw yourselves, you have no legal grounds." Perhaps if Burbank had approached this problem as you suggest, they would have received a warmer receiption.

User currently offlineFP_v2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 1524 times:

Which runway did it overshoot?...8/26 or 15/23?

User currently offlineVngd4me From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 238 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 1515 times:

I would agree that for the good PR, WN should pay at least a portion of the damages, provided some sort of reciepts or proof from the city of Burbank.

I also agree that WN is somewhat responsible for paying for the damages even if they pay these taxes which cover the average airport repairs, bills, upkeep and staffing, however this was beyond the norm and was the fault of bad WN crew judgement. If taxes included repairs from negligence of an airline, I believe those taxes would have to be much higher.

What about the CO plane that crashed through the terminal wall (I've forgotten now which airport) last July or August. Was Continental charged for those damages (also due to negligence) I would assume so. Anyone know the specifics?

User currently offlineSpacepope From Vatican City, joined Dec 1999, 3392 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 1505 times:

The terminal was Newark I think

Just for the record, in Michigan, the gas pumps all have little stickers on them warning you that you are responsible for any spills that happen while you are fueling your vehicle. Then again gas and water don't mix, and if there's one thing that michigan has a lot of, it's water. That and mosquitoes.


The last of the famous international playboys
User currently offlineEarly Air From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 611 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 1497 times:

They sould come to an agreement in between. WN should not pay $40,000 but they should pay something.

Early Air

User currently offlineFedExHeavy From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 226 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 1490 times:

The runway that Southwest over shot was 8/26.
I agree with WN boy, and I also believe this is a no win situation for either party here. It was an unfortunite event but I think they should both count there blessings that it didn't come out worst, you know if the Boeing 737-300 slid a bit farther and tipped off the gas pumps adn people died. But this is reality and the parties in this postion don't think of this, it all comes down to the $. Either way you cut it someone is walking away mad. Should Southwest pay it, sure some of it, but I don't think Burbank should get all in up roar about it either and piss off the carrier that essentially domiantes the majority of the routes BUR has.
Just my two cents.

So far this is the oldest I've been.
User currently offlineSuper em From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 451 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (15 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 1472 times:

I believe Southwest should pay.From what i'm reading in this post,it was pilot error.It was not weather or traffic related.It was all the pilot's fault.Plus he probably had a chance to abort and go around.Imagine if this accident was caused by something malfunctioning at the airport.I know that Southwest would go after the city to repair their 737.Does anyone know what happened to the pilot?If however Southwest does end up paying,I think the pilot should pay a percentage of it out of his salary.

25 DCA-ROCguy : It seems to me that Southwest should pay the cost of repair to Burbank Airport, because the crash was their fault. The pilot tried to approach too fas
26 Lowfareair : One question: whose smart idea was it to stick a gas station at the end of a runway? BUR should sent a 'reciept' listing hat the cost for every item w
27 WN boy : The pilot was terminated. The union grieved the termination but it was upheld by the System Board. To my knowledge, he is still looking for employment
28 LoneStarMike : I think you guys are all missing the point. It was my understanding that the City of Burbank is asking for the money to cover the costs of providing e
29 Parra : There are some strange arguments here. If you damage something you or your insurer should pay. It's that simple. All this "If you pay tax you can dama
30 WN boy : Wait a minute, if it is for the emergency services, then that is a different story. That definitely is part of what Southwest has paid for in taxes al
31 DCA-ROCguy : Hmm...if Burbank wants to charge Southwest for emergency services in addition to airport wall repairs etc, that's a different story. Local governments
32 WN boy : Jim, I hate to correct you, but a retroactive ordinance forcing Southwest to pay for emergency services would not be unconstitutional under the ex pos
33 Post contains images DCA-ROCguy : Better to get accurate information out. I didn't realize that the ex post facto principle did not apply to local gov'ts, thanks for info. Are you an a
34 WN boy : I do happen to be an attorney, but it has been many years since I took constitutional law in law school. So don't be surprised if there is a case exte
35 DCA-ROCguy : Did El Paso do something to anger WN? If so, what--I haven't heard about that. Jim
36 Kubla : I would also like to know what El Paso did to WN. Also, I'd like to say to WN Boy that I agree with you over the city trying to recover the cost of pr
37 WN boy : It was years ago, and I do not have a complete recollection of the events, nor a full understanding at the time they occurred. Nevertheless, it seems
38 Tom in NO : I'm wondering why WN would decrease flights at ELP due to a poisoned relationship with airport management. Here at MSY, the main thing keeping airline
39 WN boy : Please do so, Tom. I have only related the story as I have been able to extrapolate it from various fragments of the tale from multiple storytellers.
40 AV8N2 : I am having a tough time understanding these arguements as to who should pay for the mishap. A good point was givin regarding that the $ was for rescu
41 Post contains images Sushka : If they already pay 1 million then I dont think they should have to pay anymore.
42 WN boy : Yes, I am certain that you can find the Democrats in the room. They are the ones who say that the government is entitled to tax money and is not bound
43 Gearup : Sorry, slightly off topic, Does anyone know if the aircraft was written off or if it was repairable?
44 OPNLguy : Written off...
45 Climbout : Thanks for all of the great posts, guys. When I originally posted this, I didn't realize that the charges were for emergency cost, and not for damages
46 Post contains links ScottB : I managed to find a link which had a little blurb about Southwest's dispute with the El Paso Airport regarding increased fees: http://www.airportnet.o
47 OPNLguy : Back about 5-6 years ago, ELP radically raised their landing fees. Whether this was to fund off-airport stuff (like LAX diverted revenue) or for NAFTA
48 TWA : I think Lowfareair made the best point on here. Who the heck would stick a gas station at the end or the runway??? TWA
49 Post contains links OPNLguy : An interesting perspective...
50 DL Widget Head : Southwest needs to reflect on United's public relations debacle from a few weeks ago. Due to widespread bad publicity, United had to do an about face
51 B757FO : Hmmm... I think that this incident should have never happened, but...I do think that will all the taxes and insurance Southwest pays...end of discussi
52 Post contains images OPNLguy : >>>Due to widespread bad publicity, United had to do an about face on their refusal to honor 50 or 60 tickets validly sold on their internet site for
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