The U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics issued the following press release:
U.S. airlines experienced a higher rate of flight delays, more reports of mishandled baggage and a higher number of complaints about airline service in 2005 than in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Air Travel Consumer Report which was issued today.
According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the 20 airlines reporting on-time performance with DOT recorded an on-time arrival rate of 77.4 percent in 2005, down from the 78.1 percent mark of 2004. These carriers also recorded a rate of 6.04 reports of mishandled baggage per 1,000 passengers last year, up from 2004's rate of 4.91. The Department received 8,735 complaints from consumers about airline service last year, up 17.2 percent from 2004's total of 7,452 complaints.
The monthly report also includes data on the causes of flight delays, as well as information on flight cancellations and on consumer disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes data on airline reports of oversales ("bumping") during the fourth quarter and January-December 2005, as well as reports required to be filed by U.S. carriers of incidents involving pets traveling by air.
December Flight Delays
According to information filed with BTS, the carriers reporting on-time performance posted a 71.0 percent on-time arrival record in December, down from both December 2004's 71.6 and November 2005's 80.0 percent marks.
Causes of Flight Delays
In December, the carriers filing on-time performance reported that 9.46 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.48 percent in November; 8.18 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.21 percent in November; 8.06 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.41 percent in November; 1.13 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.69 percent in November; and 0.10 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.03 percent in November. 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 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 December, 5.31 percent of flights were delayed by weather, down 1.12 percent from December 2004, when 5.37 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and up 13.70 percent from November when 4.67 percent of flights were delayed by weather.
December Flight Cancellations
The consumer report also includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In December, the carriers canceled 1.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, down from December 2004's 2.8 percent but up from November 2005's 1.0 percent.
Mishandled Baggage in December
The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 7.73 reports per 1,000 passengers in December, down from December 2004's 9.11 but up from November 2005's 5.00 rate.