O'Hare's Ranking for On-Time Flights Has Dramatically Improved

April 3, 2018

Data available from the  Department of Transportation (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) shows that on-time performance at O'Hare International Airport has dramatically improved in recent years. The last four years of statistics for the nation's 30 major airports show that O'Hare has steadily moved up in the rankings from the bottom to the middle of the pack. For the full year of 2017, O'Hare's on-time arrival percentage was 80.8 percent, ranking it at number 14 out of 30 airports. Just three years ago and for several years prior, O'Hare 's on-time percentage was below 70 percent and the airport ranked at or near the bottom among major airports.

O'Hare's strong on-time performance in 2017 puts it ahead of other major airports in cold climates including Philadelphia, Boston, New York's Kennedy and LaGuardia, and Newark. Midway International Airport also performed well in 2017, ranking twelfth among major airports with 81.7 percent on-time arrivals.

The trends in DOT's BTS rankings over the last 10 years demonstrate the effectiveness of the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP) which has reconfigured the airport's airfield into a modern, parallel runway layout. Since 2005, the Chicago Department of Aviation has invested more the $5 billion to make O'Hare's airfield the most modern and efficient in the country. The completed modernization projects include the opening of three new runways and a runway extension, and two additional air traffic control towers.

The CDA continues to invest in the airport as part of O'Hare 21. A new aircraft deicing pad is set to open later this year, and the final full OMP runway, 9C-27C, is under construction and scheduled to open in 2020. In addition, the extension of Runway 9R-27L is on track to open in 2021. These improvements, together with added gate capacity created through the recently announced $8.5 billion O'Hare terminal expansion, will pave the way for fewer delays and more on-time flights.

Evidence of better performance and reduced delays at O'Hare can be found in other sources beyond BTS rankings. FAA reported delays have dropped by more than 78 percent over the last decade at O'Hare -from 64,438 in 2008 to 13,842 in 2017. Last year O'Hare was also ranked among the top 20 mega airports in the world for on-time performance according to  OAG's Punctuality League Report. With an on-time percentage just shy of 80 percent, O'Hare ranked seventh among international airports that had 30 million or more departing seats in 2017, putting it ahead of major airports in the U.S. and across the globe including Los Angeles, New York JFK, San Francisco, London Heathrow, Dubai and Hong Kong.