US airlines on-time perfomance drops

The U.S.’ largest airlines recorded a lower rate of on-time flights this past May than in either May 2005 or April 2006, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report. This was released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOTs Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the 20 carriers reporting on-time performance in May recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 78.3 percent for the month, down from both May 2005s 83.7 percent on-time record and April 2006s 78.4 percent.

The monthly report also includes data on flight cancellations and causes of flight delays, as well as information on reports of mishandled baggage filed with the carriers and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOTs Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes information required to be filed by U.S. carriers of incidents involving pets traveling by air.

Cancellations

The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In May, the carriers canceled 1.2 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, higher than both the 0.9 percent cancellation rate of May 2005 and the 1.1 percent rate recorded in April 2006.

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Causes of Flight Delays

The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 7.07 percent of their May flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.99 percent in April 2006; 6.85 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.83 percent in April; 5.57 percent by factors within the airlines control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.69 percent in April; 0.82 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.70 in April; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.08 April. Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category.

This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOTs Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category.

Data collected by BTS also show the percentage of overall flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In May, 47.62 percent of flights were delayed by weather, up 9.72 percent from May 2005, when 43.40 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and up 12.18 percent from April when 42.45 percent of flights were delayed by weather.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at http://www.bts.gov .

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.94 reports per 1,000 passengers in May, down from both May 2005s 5.21 rate and April 2006s 5.27 mark.

Incidents Involving Pets

In May, carriers reported two incidents involving pets while traveling by air, compared to six reports in April. Both May incidents involved the death of a pet. Carriers first began reporting pet incidents in May 2005.

Complaints About Airline Service

In May, the Department received 623 complaints from consumers about airline service, up 1.6 percent from the 613 complaints received in May 2005 and 11.6 percent fewer than the 705 filed in April 2006.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in May against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 38 disability-related complaints in May, 25.5 percent fewer than the 51 received in May 2005 but 5.6 percent more than the 36 filed in April 2006.

Complaints About Discrimination

In May, the Department received 12 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability such as race, religion, national origin or sex compared to the totals of 13 complaints filed in May 2005 and eight in April 2006.

Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, Room 4107, 400 7^th St. SW, Washington, DC 20590; by e-mail at [email protected]; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.

Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline ticket offices or their travel agents. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.

The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOTs World Wide Web site at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov . It is available in pdf and Microsoft Word format.
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