U.S. Airlines See On-Time Performance Decline

U.S. carriers' flights arrived on time only 77 percent of the time in April, down from 86 percent a year ago. Airlines for America blames “government-imposed air traffic controller furloughs.”

John Denver would be even less thrilled to be “leaving on a jet plane” based on the U.S.  Department of Transportation’s recent report on airline on-time performance.

The report found that U.S. flights arrived on time only 77 percent of the time in April, down from 86 percent a year ago. Weather caused 34 percent of flight delays, according to the report, up from 20 percent in March. Other reasons listed included late-arriving aircraft (8.11 percent), aviation system delays (6.8 percent), and factors within an airline’s control (5.29 percent). Very few delays were due to security reasons, at 0.04 percent.

However, Airlines for America, the  trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, had another reason to add to the list. Speaking with,  spokeswoman Jean Medina blamed the delays on “government-imposed air traffic controller furloughs.”

And group spokeswoman Victoria Day, in a statement to Associations Now, asserted that the on-time numbers, while lower than the previous year’s, were still strong compared to the first quarters of prior years. “The most recent monthly on-time arrival results show improvement compared to April 2011,” she explained, “despite the impact of eight days of FAA-imposed air traffic controller furloughs due to sequestration that resulted in thousands of flight delays and cancellations and negatively impacted airline operations and our customers.”

Highlights from the Transportation Department report:

  • Two flights were delayed on the tarmac for more than three hours.
  • Airlines posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.08 reports per 1,000 passengers, up from 2.63 in April 2012.
  • Complaints are up: The Transportation Department received 1,086 complaints about airline service, up 1.8 percent from April 2012 and a whopping 15 percent from March 2013. However, complaints about mistreatment of disabled passengers and discrimination in general were down.
  • Two pets died, and one was injured, on flights in April, on par with a year ago.

Upcoming reports  may or may not show improvement, but June’s report might include “one avoided mutiny.”

Earlier this month, passengers on a flight from Las Vegas to Phoenix sang R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” in unison to survive a five-hour delay. Someone had the foresight to record the incident and post it on YouTube (see above).


Daniel Ford

By Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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