Those hot, dry days of August had an upside for travelers at Philadelphia International Airport this year.
The busiest airport in the Northeast for takeoffs and landings, Philadelphia often is at or near the bottom of the list of big U.S. airports for on-time flights. But the facility sharply improved its ranking for the month, among the 33 largest airports, according to data released this week by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
The bureau, a U.S. Department of Transportation agency, said 74 percent of August flights were on time, putting Philadelphia in 24th place for arrivals and in 27th place for departures within 15 minutes of schedule. A year ago in August, it was in 30th place for arrivals, with 69 percent on time. Departures a year ago were on time 75 percent of the time, putting Philadelphia in 32d place.
Philadelphia still ranked at or close to the bottom of the list through the first eight months of the year. For the eight-month period, 69 percent of flights were on time, leaving Philadelphia in 30th place for arrivals and 33d place for departures.
Helping Philadelphia move up the list in August were relatively poor performances by the Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul airports, which are hubs for Northwest Airlines. Mechanics at Northwest went on strike Aug. 20, delaying numerous flights.
Philadelphia airport's on-time performance is affected by many factors. Because it is squeezed into 2,100 acres, far fewer than many big facilities have, runways are so close together that flights cannot land or take off at the same time. Also, Philadelphia has almost 1,400 takeoffs and landings a day, more than any other Northeast airport.
Operations here were helped last month by rainfall's being slightly below average, according to National Weather Service data.
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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.
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