Myrtle Beach Airport's Major Airlines Worst for On-Time Performance

Late local flights, often a result of bad weather and routes that connect through backed-up hub airports, reflect a growing national trend.

"The lines are longer than we'd like them to be," Kemp said, referring to the backlog of passengers waiting for flights at the airport.

In an age of high fuel costs, low fares and bankruptcy filings, airlines don't have any financial incentive to cut back on schedules.

The industry lost $30 billion between 2000-04 and is on track to lose another $5 billion this year, despite increased emphasis on efficiency.

"The potential revenue benefits from reducing passenger delays are relatively small," Mayer wrote in his study, "and do not justify the additional labor costs associated with lengthening schedules."

Or, as Sieber puts it, flight delays are one tradeoff for the low fares airlines are offering. When it comes down to time or money, today's consumer is choosing the cash.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

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