Gianaris and state Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) sponsored a bill that would require airlines to provide supplies to passengers who are stuck in planes at state airports that have left their gates but are stalled on the runways. Under the legislation, which was signed into law in August, airlines would be forced to provide stranded passengers with electric generation service to provide fresh air and lights, refreshments and clean bathroom services for holding tanks in plane restrooms. But the ATA filed suit against the state on behalf of the major U.S. commercial airlines to challenge the law. Gianaris said he thought the airlines should use their resources to better accommodate passengers rather than going through with the suit."It's no wonder the reputation of the airline industry is in such bad shape when they spend their time fighting to deny passengers the right to a drink of water or a clean bathroom," he said.The bill was developed following a Feb. 14, 2007 snowstorm which left passengers stuck in planes on runways at Kennedy Airport in Jamaica for as long as 10 hours without food or water and clean restrooms, he said. More than 500 passengers were stranded on the tarmac at JFK Airport for over six hours during that storm.Under the law, airlines that violate the law can be forced to pay a fine of $1,000 per passenger."Only an industry with a virtual monopoly can afford to continuously alienate their customers as effectively as the airlines," said Kate Hanni, founder of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@times
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