On-time arrival rate of major US-based airlines in August best since 2003

Saturday, October 4, 2008, 7:31 by Aviation Correspondent

Major airlines based in the United States achieved an on-time arrival rate of 78.4% in August 2008 – up from 71.7% in the same month in 2007.

This on-time arrival rate in August was the highest for the month in five years as carriers flew less and had fewer flight-schedule difficulties.

In August 2003, 79% of flights were within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival.

On-time rate of major US airlines was 74.3% through the first eight months of 2008, compared with 72.1% for the same period in 2007.

So far, 2008 is the third worst for delays in the 14 years for which comparable records have been kept.

In July 2008, the US-based airlines had a 75.7% on-time arrival rate, according to figures released by the United States the Department of Transportation.

“Flight operations dropped by 6% as carriers pared capacity to raise fares and blunt higher fuel costs. Delays blamed on planes arriving late from a previous flight fell to 6.3% from 9.3% in August 2007, when they were the most-common reason for tardiness,” the US Department of Transportation said in a press release.

In August 2008, Hawaiian Airlines had the highest on-time arrival rate (92.3%), followed by Pinnacle Airlines (89.6%) and SkyWest Airline (85.7%).

American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, based in Fort Worth, Texas, had an on-time arrival rate of 70.6%, third worst in the survey conducted by the US Department of Transportation.

JetBlue Airways, the low-cost airline headquartered in the Forest Hills neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens, had an on-time arrival rate of 64.7% – the lowest rate in the survey.

In August 2008, the major US-based airlines cancelled 1.6% of their scheduled domestic flights, compared with 1.9% in August 2007.

Southwest Airlines, the low-cost airline based in Dallas, Texas, the United States, had the third lowest cancellation rate (0.6%).

Southwest Airlines was outranked in the lowest cancellation rate by Frontier Airlines, the low-cost airline based at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado (0.3%), and Northwest Airlines, a major US-based airline headquartered in Eagan, Minnesota, near Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (0.5%).

According to the US Department of Transportation, mishandled baggage reports for the 19 major carriers fell to 4.98 per 1,000 passengers in August 2008, compared to 7.58 per 1,000 passengers a year earlier.

The 19 airlines had reported a mishandled baggage rate of 4.86 per 1,000 in July 2008.

The website bloomberg.com quoted an analyst with Online Travel Review, a website that tracks the industry, as commenting on the findings of the US Department of Transportation: “Fewer flights in the air can only help the delay situation. If you cross that with a milder weather pattern, the Thanksgiving and Christmas season could be smoother than we’ve seen in the past.”

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