Monday, August 06, 2007

U.S. Dept. of Transportation reports decline in airline performance

US DOT logoThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a discouraging airline performance report today. The report says that recent on-time performance among the nation's largest air carriers is the worst in years.

The 20 airlines reporting to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) had an overall on-time arrival rate of 68.1 percent in June, down from both June 2006’s 72.8 percent and May 2007’s 77.9 percent. In other words, in June, nearly a third of domestic flights on major U.S. airlines were late.

Reasons for flight delays in June, cited in the DOT report:
  • 10.04% - late-arriving aircraft
  • 9.13% - aviation system delays
  • 8.13% - factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems
  • 1.42% - extreme weather
  • 0.09% - security reasons
The DOT acknowledges that 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 DOT’s 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 shows 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 June, 44.97 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up 6.92 percent from June 2006, when 42.06 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and up 14.78 percent from May when 39.18 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.
The same 20 airlines reported that they canceled 2.7 percent of their domestic scheduled flights in June, up from both June 2006’s cancellation rate of 1.7 percent and May 2007’s 1.1 percent.

The rate of mishandled baggage also grew: The airlines posted a mishandled baggage rate of 7.92 reports per 1,000 passengers in June, compared to 6.30 per 1,000 passengers in June of 2006, and 5.93 in May of this year.

Here's a link to the latest Air Travel Consumer Report (63 page 'pdf' file) from which the above statistics were drawn. Links to earlier reports can be found on the DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division website.

For another interesting read, check out the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports on Taxi-Out Times. BTS statistics show that airlines reported 462 flights with taxi-out times of more than three hours in June.