No Tarmac Delays in Four of the Last Six Months

March 2011 was the fourth month out of the last six that the nation’s airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). A year ago, in March 2010, the carriers reported 25 tarmac delays longer than three hours. Carriers also reported a decrease in the rate of canceled flights in March compared to a year earlier, DOT reports. The DOT also released data on flight delays, bumping and baggage delays.

Data showed that there have been only 16 total tarmac delays of more than three hours reported from May 2010 through March 2011 by the airlines that file on-time performance data with DOT, compared to 689 reported from May 2009 through March 2010. In March, the carriers also reported that .0300 percent of their scheduled flights had tarmac delays of two hours or more, down from the .0400 percent reported in February 2011.

March was the 11th full month of data since the new aviation consumer rule went into effect on April 29, 2010. The DOT said the new rule prohibits U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without permitting passengers to deplane, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. The DOT will investigate tarmac delays that exceed this limit.

On-Time Performance: The DOT says that the 16 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 79.2 percent in March, down slightly from the 80.0 percent on-time rate of March 2010, but up from February 2011’s 74.5 percent rate.

Cancellations: During March, the carriers canceled 1.3 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, compared to 1.5 percent in March 2010 and 4.9 percent in February 2011. The number of canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours increased only slightly, from 324 between May 2009 and March 2010 to 347 between May 2010 and March 2011. There were 16 canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours in March 2011, down from 35 in March 2010.

Chronically Delayed Flights: At the end of March, there were only two flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months. There were no chronically delayed flights for three consecutive months or more.

Causes of Flight Delays: In March, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 6.15 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.73 percent in February; 7.41 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.44 percent in February; 5.35 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.44 percent in February; 0.32 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.69 percent in February; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.05 percent in February.

The percentage of late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In March, 36.80 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down 9.47 percent from March 2010, when 40.65 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and up 1.15 percent from February when 36.38 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.

Mishandled Baggage: The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.32 reports per 1,000 passengers in March, down from both March 2010’s rate of 3.66 and February 2011’s rate of 3.59. For the first quarter of this year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.71, down from the 4.03 rate for first quarter of 2010.

Bumping: The report also includes airline reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for the first quarter of this year. The 16 U.S. carriers who report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data posted a bumping rate of 0.90 per 10,000 passengers for the quarter, down from the 1.76 rate for the first quarter of 2010, but up from the 0.79 rate posted during the fourth quarter of 2010.




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