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Airline Performance Improving

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By Author: Steve Robinson
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While people are often motivated to travel because of the ready supply of cheap fares, including cheap airplane tickets and cheap vacation packages, delayed and sometimes cancelled flights, can create a lot of frustration. Fortunately airlines are doing a better job than ever of getting passengers to their destinations on time.

The country’s biggest airlines recorded a record on time performance during the first quarter of this year. Of the 15 airlines surveyed, they were on time (defined as within 15 minutes of scheduled arrival time) 84 percent of the time from January through March.

This was the best on time arrival performance by the airlines for any first quarter since records started being kept in 1995. The previous record was slightly above 81 percent in 2002.

Airlines improving on time arrival rates are being attributed to mild weather, the fact that fewer planes are flying because total flights have been reduced to meet demand, and airline consolidation. Experts believe that fewer airlines have resulted in better management of available airspace.

The following are other measurements of airline performance:

• After three consecutive months of no runway delays in excess of three hours on domestic flights, airlines experienced three such delays in March, all out of St. Louis on March 17th during a bad storm.

• Baggage handling showed significant improvement in the first quarter during which there were 3.01 reports of mishandled luggage per 1,000 passengers, down from a 3.73 rate the prior year. February’s rate of 2.64 was the lowest rate of bags lost or delayed since such data has been collected starting in September of 1987.

• The rate at which passengers were bumped increased slightly to 0.91 per 10,000 passengers vs. 0.84 the prior year.
Airlines turning in the best on-time arrival performance for March were AirTran Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and US Airways. ExpressJet Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin America were the most delayed airlines for the month.

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