Airlines late more often in July, only 3 planes stuck on tarmac more than 3 hours

Monday, September 13, 2010

Airlines late more often in July than year ago

NEW YORK — U.S. airlines were late more often in July than a year earlier, but there were only three planes stuck for more than three hours, the government said Monday.

The nation’s largest airlines operated 76.7 percent of flights on time in July, down from 77.6 percent in July 2009. The on-time rate in July was better than the month before, as incidents of severe weather that delayed planes declined from June to July.

The best at getting customers to their destinations on-time was Hawaiian Airlines, which traditionally holds the top spot. Hawaiian was followed by Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, operated by parent company UAL Corp. The airline with the worst on-time rate was ExpressJet Airlines, which operates regional flights for United and Continental. Comair, Delta’s regional unit, and Delta’s main operations were only slightly better.

Only three planes were stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours in July, compared with 161 a year earlier. All three were American Eagle flights leaving Chicago’s O’Hare on July 23, a day when a severe thunderstorm in the area left many planes sitting on runways. All three flights were brought back to the gate and canceled.

Passenger complaints to the DOT soared from a year ago, up 32.3 percent to 1,094. DOT recently began allowing e-mail complaints directly on their website, which led to a spike in complaints over the year, though gripes were down 22.9 percent from June. Most of the complaints in July were about problems with cancellations and delays.

Airlines got more bags where they were supposed to go in July compared to a year earlier, but the mishandled baggage rate was up from June.

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