Airline On-Time Performance Improves

The nation’s largest airlines posted an on-time arrival rate of 86.3 percent in April, up from both the 75.5 percent on-time rate of April 2011 and from March 2012’s 82.2 percent rate, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Air Travel Consumer Report.

April’s mishandled baggage rate was down from both April 2011’s rate of 3.30 and March 2012’s of 3.09.

Airlines also reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights or more than four hours on international flights in April.

During April, the carriers canceled 1.0 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, down from April 2011’s 2.0 percent cancellation rate and equal to March 2012’s 1.0 percent.

At the end of April, there were six flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months. No flights were chronically delayed for three consecutive months or more, DOT says.

Airlines for America (A4A) praised the best airline industry on-time performance in more than two years and the best-ever monthly baggage-handling performance.

A4A noted that 86.3 percent of flights arrived within 15 minutes of scheduled arrival time in April 2012 – the best performance for any month since November 2009, which had an on-time rate of 88.6 percent.
“Our airlines strive to consistently deliver safe, on-time service, a trend that is leading to an improved customer experience,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “Thanks to operational improvements and fewer weather disruptions, our members are again delivering strong on-time performance and already this year set two all-time records for baggage handling.”

Notably in April, 99.7 percent of all U.S. airline passengers had their bags delivered on time, an all-time record for any month since the government began keeping records in 1987; the previous record was set in February 2012.

Key results:

In April, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 3.56 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.99 percent in March;

4.59 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.16 percent in March;

4.04 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.90 percent in March;

0.39 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.51 percent in March;

0.02 percent for security reasons, equal to 0.02 percent in March.

Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category, DOT notes.

In April, 28.53 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down 28.44 percent from April 2011, when 39.87 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and down 19.34 percent from March when 35.37 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.

In April, the DOT said it received 1,068 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 21.4 percent from the 880 complaints received in April 2011, but down 4.4 percent from the 1,117 complaints filed in March 2012.

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