Airlines On-Time Performance in March Slips from March 2005

Airlines on-time performance in march better than february but slips from previous year.

The nations largest airlines recorded a rate of on-time flights this past March that was higher than Februarys rate but down slightly from March 2005, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today 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 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 76.1 percent in March, down from March 2005s 76.9 but an improvement over February 2006s 75.3.

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, airline bumping, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOTs Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes reports 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 March, the carriers canceled 1.2 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, down from both the 1.6 percent cancellation rate of March 2005 and the 2.1 percent rate recorded in February 2006.

Causes of Flight Delays

The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 7.86 percent of their March flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 8.32 percent in February 2006; 7.42 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.92 percent in February; 6.27 percent by factors within the airlines control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.08 percent in February; 0.81 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.92 in February; and 0.08 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.09 percent in February. 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 March, 5.16 percent of flights were delayed by weather, up 3.20 percent from March 2005, when 5.00 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and up 7.72 percent from February when 4.79 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 5.81 reports per 1,000 passengers in March, down from both March 2005s 6.41 rate and February 2006s 6.08 mark. For the first three months of this year, the carriers posted a 6.24 mishandled baggage rate, well below the 6.83 rate for January-March 2005.

Bumping

The report also includes airline reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for the first quarter of this year. Of the 19 U.S. carriers who report on-time performance and mishandled baggage data, 18 are also required to report their bumping records to DOT. These 18 carriers posted a bumping rate of 1.31 per 10,000 passengers for the quarter, up from the 1.11 rate for the first quarter of 2005.

Incidents Involving Pets

In March, carriers reported two incidents involving pets while traveling by air, compared to one report in February. Both March incidents involved injuries to pets. Carriers first began reporting pet incidents in May 2005.

Complaints About Airline Service

In March, the Department received 709 complaints from consumers about airline service, up 2.5 percent from the 692 complaints received in March 2005 and 29.1 percent more than the 549 filed in February 2006. For the first three months of this year consumers filed 2,086 complaints, down 21.5 percent from the total of 2,657 received during January-March 2005.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in March against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 30 disability-related complaints in March, 30.2 percent fewer than the 43 received in March 2005 but 20 percent more than the 25 filed in February 2006. For the first three months of this year the department received 98 disability-related complaints, 31 percent fewer than the 142 filed during January-March 2005.

Complaints About Discrimination

In March, the Department received 11 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 March 2005 and five in February 2006. For the first three months of this year, the Department received 26 discrimination complaints, down 29.7 percent from the 37 received during January-March 2005.

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 airconsumer@dot.gov; 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.

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