ACI-NA Issues Template for Airport Emergency Contingency Plans

ACI-NA has issued a template that airport operators can use to develop Airport Emergency Contingency Plans, which are required under the provisions of the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (the Act).  This template was developed in collaboration with AAAE.

As stated in Section 42301 the Act, Emergency Contingency Plans must describe how “following excessive tarmac delays” airport operators will “to the maximum extent practicable”:

·         Provide for the deplanement of passengers;

·         Provide for the sharing of facilities and make gates available at the airport; and

·         Provide a sterile area following excessive tarmac delays for passengers who have not yet cleared United States Customs & Border Protection (CBP).

In its February 24, 2012, Federal Register notice, the DOT stated that the operators of all large, medium, small, and nonhub airports—defined using calendar year 2010 passenger enplanement data—must submit Emergency Contingency Plans.  These plans must be submitted to the DOT by May 14, 2012 for their review and acceptance.  According to the Act, these plans need to be updated and resubmitted for DOT approval every five years.

The DOT is in the process of setting up an electronic submittal mechanism for these contingency plans and has advised airports to delay to submittal their plans until DOT publishes additional guidance regarding plan submittal processes.  DOT plans to provide this guidance by mid-April 2012.

Because of unique differences in the physical characteristics and capabilities of airports as well as differences in the terms of their leases with air carriers and other tenants, this template will provide several versions of suggested text for the various sections required in the plans.  Member airports are encouraged to model their plans after an option that best matches their individual circumstances.

ACI-NA and AAAE have reviewed the template with DOT staff.  However, please note that individual airport plans will still be subject to DOT review and approval.

Because airports may be subject to significant penalties (up to $27,500 per violation) for not complying with the provisions contained in the plans they submit, we urge members to limit the content of the formal plans they submit to the Secretary of Transportation only to those elements that are required by the legislation. Additional details for execution of the plan should be included in separate internal documents, such as Irregular Operations (IROPS) Contingency Plans.

The Airport Cooperative Research Program recently published Report 65, “Guidebook for Airport Irregular Operations (IROPS) Contingency Planning”, which can provide valuable information on developing detailed contingency plans. We urge member airports to incorporate such detailed guidance into internal IROPS contingency plans, but NOT in Emergency Contingency Plans submitted to the DOT under paragraph 42301 of the Act.

ACRP Report 65 is available at:

Additional information can be found in “Development of Contingency Plans for Lengthy Airline On-Board Ground Delays’ developed by a national task force of airline and airport officials chartered by DOT in 2008. The report is available at:

Please contact Chris Oswald ( or Dick Marchi ( if you have questions or comments.