Airlines' on-time arrival rate sags in December
The on-time performance of U.S. airlines declined dramatically in December compared to the previous month, but improved slightly over a year earlier. The carriers blamed heavy snowstorms around the Christmas holiday and aviation-system issues for contributing to some delays.
The Associated Press
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ATLANTA — The on-time performance of U.S. airlines declined dramatically in December compared with the previous month, but improved slightly over a year earlier, the Transportation Department said Monday.
The carriers blamed heavy snowstorms around the Christmas holiday and aviation-system issues for contributing to some delays.
The DOT also said that the airlines had a significantly higher domestic flight cancellation rate and a higher mishandled baggage rate in the final month of 2008 compared sith November.
Even complaints about airline service were up in December compared with November.
Still, the DOT report said the airlines did a better job in all four categories in December compared with the same month in 2007.
As airlines have cut capacity and made other changes, generally they have been able to cut delays and do a better job handling bags. But some have struggled compared with their peers.
Hawaiian Airlines topped the list with a December on-time arrival rate of 79.6 percent, while US Airways Group had the second-highest on-time arrival rate in the month, at 72.1 percent, and American Airlines had the third-highest on-time arrival rate, at 69.9 percent.
Regional carrier Comair, a Kentucky-based unit of Delta Air Lines, had the lowest on-time arrival rate in December, at 55.1 percent.
Alaska Airlines, a unit of Seattle-based Alaska Air Group, had the second-lowest on-time arrival rate in December, at 58.4 percent, while American Eagle, a unit of Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR, which also operates American Airlines, had the third-lowest on-time arrival rate in December, at 59.3 percent.
The DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics said the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 65.3 percent, up from December 2007's 64.3 percent but down from November 2008's 83.3 percent.
In December, 45.4 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.
Also in December, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 10.6 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation-system delays, 11.1 percent by late-arriving aircraft and 7.7 percent by factors within the airline's control such as maintenance or crew problems.
There was heavy snow in parts of the country around Christmas and in the final days of December.
Some of the aviation issues in general involved the national aviation system.
According to the DOT, delays and cancellations attributable to the national aviation system refer to a broad set of conditions, including non-extreme weather conditions, airport operations, heavy traffic volume and air-traffic control.
In December, the carriers canceled 3.3 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, down from the 3.5 percent cancellation rate of December 2007 but higher than the 0.8 percent rate posted in November 2008.
The airlines overall posted a mishandled baggage rate of 6.96 reports per 1,000 passengers in December, an improvement over December 2007's rate of 9.05 but higher than November 2008's 3.75 rate.
The DOT said that in December it received 700 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 17.8 percent from the 852 complaints filed in December 2007, but 31.6 percent more than the total of 532 received in November 2008.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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