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Average Flight Delay Time Down in Past Year

December 7, 2010 By: Staff

Good news for travelers! The nation’s largest airlines reported no flights in October with tarmac delays of more than three hours, down from 11 flights in October 2009, with a slight decrease in the rate of canceled flights, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

October was the first month there were no tarmac delays of more than three hours by the reporting carriers since the DOT began collecting comprehensive tarmac delay data in October 2008.

“We appreciate the effort that the airlines are putting into making this new rule work effectively for the benefit of their passengers,” said Ray LaHood, U.S. transportation secretary.

Data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) showed there have been only 12 total tarmac delays of more than three hours reported from May through October this year by the 18 airlines that file on-time performance data with DOT, compared to 546 during the same five-month period of 2009.

October was the sixth full month of data since the new aviation consumer rule went into effect on April 29, DOT says.

Cancellations are also down. The largest carriers canceled 0.97 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in October, down from the 0.99 percent cancellation rate of October 2009. They posted a 0.90 percent cancellation rate in September 2010. The number of canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours increased only slightly this year, from 224 between May and October 2009 to 230 between May and October 2010, DOT says.

Airlines canceled five flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours in October 2010, slightly up from the total of four in October 2009.

The new DOT tarmac delay rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security

The reporting carriers recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 83.8 percent in October, up from the 77.3 percent on-time rate of October 2009 but down from September 2010’s 85.1 percent. Visit


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