System Issues, Late-Arriving Aircraft, Weather All Factors In
Flights operated by the nation's largest airlines arrived on
time at a lower rate this past October than in either October of
last year or in September 2009, according to the Air Travel
Consumer Report released Tuesday by the U.S. DOT.
According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation
Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT's Research and Innovative
Technology Administration (RITA), the 19 carriers reporting on-time
performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 77.3
percent in October, a lower rate than both October 2008's 86.0
percent and September 2009's 86.2 percent.
The monthly report also includes data on lengthy tarmac delays,
flight cancellations and the causes of flight delays by the
reporting carriers, as well as reports of mishandled baggage filed
with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and
discrimination complaints received by DOT's Aviation Consumer
Protection Division, as well as reports of incidents involving pets
traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.
The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic
flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In October, the
carriers canceled 1.0 percent of their scheduled domestic flights,
higher than the 0.6 percent cancellation rate posted in both
October 2008 and September 2009.
The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that .002
percent of their scheduled flights had tarmac delays of three hours
or more in October, up from .001 percent in September. There
were no flights with tarmac delay of four hours or more in
Breaking down the delay statistics a little further, carriers
reported that in October, 8.52 percent of their flights were
delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.92 percent in
September; 7.20 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 3.88
percent in September; 5.26 percent by factors within the
airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems,
compared to 3.89 percent in September; 0.52 percent by extreme
weather, compared to 0.37 percent in September; and 0.03 percent
for security reasons, compared to 0.02 percent in
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
Data collected by BTS also show the percentage of late flights
delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category
of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays.
In October, 41.14 percent of late flights were delayed by weather,
up 19.28 percent from October 2008, when 34.49 percent of late
flights were delayed by weather, and up 18.94 percent from
September when 34.59 percent of late flights were delayed by