Airline On-Time Performance Improves In May 2005

According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the 20 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 83.7 percent in May.


The nation's largest airlines experienced improved on-time performance and canceled fewer flights in May 2005 compared to both the previous month and May of last year, 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 DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration, the 20 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 83.7 percent in May, well above May 2004's 77.6 percent and a slight improvement over April 2005's 83.4 percent. Also in May, the carriers canceled 0.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, fewer than both May 2004's 1.7 percent and April 2005's 1.3 percent. Starting this month, Frontier Airlines is reporting flight data on a voluntary basis.

The monthly report also includes data on causes of flight delays, as well as information on reports of mishandled baggage filed with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division. The report also includes, for the first time, reports required to be filed by U.S. carriers of incidents involving pets traveling by air.

Causes of Flight Delays

The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 5.65 percent of their May flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.76 percent in April 2005; 4.53 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 4.35 percent in April; 4.41 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.44 percent in April; 0.61 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.57 percent in April; and 0.03 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.04 percent in April. 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. Airlines first began reporting causes of delays in June 2003.

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 May, 3.34 percent of flights were delayed by weather, down 54.56 percent from May 2004, when 7.35 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and up 1.52 percent from April when 3.29 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 5.12 reports per 1,000 passengers in May, higher than May 2004's 4.08 rate but below April 2005's 5.18 mark.

Incidents Involving Pets

In May, carriers reported 10 incidents involving pets while traveling by air. These include four reports of deaths, five reports of injuries and one loss of a pet.

Complaints About Airline Service

In May, the Department received 608 complaints from consumers about airline service, up 36.3 percent from the total of 446 received in May 2004 but 5.9 percent fewer than the 646 filed in April 2005.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in May against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 48 disability-related complaints in May, identical to the total received in May 2004 and 37.1 percent above the 35 complaints filed in April 2005.

Complaints About Discrimination

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