Feb. 10 — U.S. airlines' on-time performance improved in December and throughout 2008 compared with December 2007 and all of 2007, the federal government said Monday.
In December, 19 major U.S. carriers posted an on-time performance rate of 65.3 percent, up from December 2007's 64.3 percent but down from November 2008's 83.3 percent, said the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
From January through December 2008, the carriers recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 76 percent, up from 2007's 73.4 percent, BTS said.
U.S. carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 6.96 reports per thousand passengers in December, an improvement over December 2007's rate of 9.05 but higher than November 2008's 3.75 rate. For all of 2008, the carriers reported a mishandled baggage rate of 5.26 per 1,000 passengers, an improvement over 2007's rate of 7.05.
In December, DOT received 700 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 17.8 percent from the 852 complaints filed in December 2007 but 31.6 percent more than the 532 received in November 2008, the agency said. For all of 2008, the department received 10,643 air service complaints, 19.2 percent fewer than the 13,180 complaints filed in 2007.
For the year, the highest on-time arrival rates were reported at Hawaiian Airlines, with a rate of 89.97, followed by Southwest Airlines, 80.48, and US Airways, 80.06. American Eagle, the regional affiliate of American Airlines, ranked 16th with a rate of 72.85. American ranked last of 19 carriers with a rate of 69.84.
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 18th annual Airline Quality Rating showed that domestic carriers' performance dropped in on-time arrival, involuntary bumping, mishandled luggage and customer complaints, compared with 2006.
The 20 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 80.0 percent in November.