Oct. 13--Philadelphia International Airport's on-time record soared in August compared with a year ago, helped by the performance of US Airways Group Inc.
Overall, U.S. airlines were better at getting passengers to their destinations on time -- 81.7 percent of the time in August, up from 79.7 percent in August a year ago and better than 76.7 percent on time arrivals in July.
Only one flight in August had a tarmac delay of more than three hours. A United Airlines flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, bound for Washington was diverted to Richmond, Va., and spent 3 hours and 20 minutes on the airport tarmac.
Last year in August, 66 flights sat on runways for at least three hours.
A new rule imposed April 29 requires a flight to deplane after it sits on the tarmac for three hours, or face hefty fines. Despite concerns the rule would lead to more canceled flights, the department said the 1 percent rate of cancellations in August was unchanged from a year ago.
"With the summer travel season behind us, it appears that the rule is working as planned," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Arriving flights at Philadelphia International in August were on time 82.5 percent of the time, an improvement from 74.2 percent in August last year.
Departures had an 83 percent on-time record in Philadelphia in August, up from 77.9 percent a year earlier, according to the DOT's Air Travel Consumer Report.
Philadelphia International ranked 13th in on-time arrivals (up from 25th a year ago) and 11th in on-time departures (up from 21st) among 29 major airports in the survey. August is the most recent month for which statistics were available.
US Airways, which transports two-thirds of Philadelphia airport passengers, ranked fifth among 18 airlines, with on-time arrivals of 84.9 percent.
"Our on-time arrivals rate of 84.9 percent was our third best performance for 2010," chief operating officer Robert Isom, said in an employee memo.
On-time means an arrival or a departure less than 15 minutes after the scheduled time.
How an airport ranks in a given month can depend on air carrier delays, extreme weather, national aviation system gridlock, security delays, and late-arriving aircraft.
"The precipitation in August 2010 at Philadelphia airport was 2.19 inches. That's 1.63 inches below normal," said meteorologist Jim Poirier at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.
"August 2009's total was 10.29 inches of rain. This August 2010 was much drier," Poirier said. "There were many fewer precipitation events probably, and certainly the rain total was much lower."
Reports of mishandled baggage by US Airways improved in August to about 2.36 reports per 1,000 passengers, from 2.90 reports a year ago. Only Hawaiian Airlines and AirTran Airways did better.
Because US Airways was No. 1 among the five largest global carriers in baggage performance in August, the carrier's more than 31,000 employees will each receive a $50 bonus.
Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways ranked 14th in customer complaints among the 18 carriers, with 89 complaints in August, a rate of 1.92 per 100,000 boarding passengers, compared with 50 complaints, or 1.10 complaints in August 2009.
Contact staff writer Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or email@example.com.
Capacity crisis not easing up
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics said 74 percent of August flights were on time, putting Philadelphia in 24th place for arrivals and in 27th place for departures.
Delays in the nation's aviation system intensified in October, causing the airline industry's on-time arrival record to fall from September's level, while still remaining ahead of last year.
With 31.5 million passengers getting on or off planes, the airport ranked 25th-busiest in the world last year, compared with No. 30 in 2004.