SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Major U.S. airlines had more flights on time in October than last year, but the performance was worse than the prior month as weather-related and air-traffic related delays rose, the U.S. Transportation Department said Thursday.
Overall, the on-time rate was 81.3%, up from 81% last year, but down from 82.7% in September, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.
The highest on-time arrival rates were at Hawaiian Airlines (HA) , with 96.8% of its flights on schedule. Next was SkyWest Airlines (SKYW) at 86.3% and then Frontier Airlines (FRNT) at 86.2%.
At the other end, the lowest on-time arrival rates were at AirTran Airways (AAI) with 74.6%, then JetBlue Airways at 75.1% and ExpressJet Airlines (XJT) at 76.8%.
Some 6.4% of carriers' October flights were delayed because of aviation-system problems, the report said, up from 5.6% in September. About 4.8% of the delays were related to "factors within the airline's control" related to issues like maintenance or crew. In September, those delays totaled about 4.7%.
Delays for weather affected 4.2% of flights in October, up from 3.2% in September.
In October, Hurricane Wilma disrupted travel in Florida when it shuttered airports.
Cancellation rates in October rose to 1.8% of scheduled domestic flights, up from 1.1%. But against September's 2% cancellation rate, the performance was an improvement.
In October, Delta Air Lines (DALRQ) and JetBlue Airways (JBLU) cancelled 3.1% of their flights, according to the data. Hawaiian Airlines didn't cancel any during the month.
Complaints against U.S. and foreign airlines, travel agents, tour operators and others rose 37% to 656 in October from 480 a year ago. Still, that was less than the 670 complaints in September.
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The 20 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 80.0 percent in November.
According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the 20 airlines reporting on-time performance with DOT recorded an on-time arrival rate of 77.4 percent in 2005.
The nation's 20 largest airlines' on-time flight rate dipped nearly 10 percentage points in October compared with the year-ago period.
The nation's largest airlines experienced improved on-time performance in April 2005 compared to both the previous month and April of last year.