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Wed, May 16, 2012

Airlines Post Record First-Quarter On-Time Performance

BTS Releases Statistics For The First Three Months of 2012

Between January and March this year, the nation’s largest airlines posted their best on-time arrival rate for the first quarter of any year since the Department began collecting comparable flight delay data in 1995, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today. The 15 carriers reporting on-time performance posted an on-time arrival rate of 84.0 percent during the first quarter of 2012.  The previous first-quarter record was the 81.3 percent on-time arrival mark set during January-March 2002.

The carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 82.2 percent in March, an improvement over March 2011’s on-time rate of 79.2 percent rate but down from February 2012’s 86.2 percent mark. Airlines reported three tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights in March.  All of the long domestic tarmac delays took place on March 17 in St. Louis, a day when severe storms took place in the area. 

The larger U.S. airlines have been required to file complete reports on their long tarmac delays for domestic flights since October 2008.  Under a new rule that took effect August 23, 2011, all U.S. and foreign airlines operating at least one aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats must report lengthy tarmac delays at U.S. airports.

Also beginning August 23, carriers operating international flights may not allow tarmac delays at U.S. airports to last longer than four hours.  There is a separate three-hour limit on tarmac delays involving domestic flights, which went into effect in April 2010.   Exceptions to the time limits for both domestic and international flights are allowed only for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons. 

The report also includes data on chronically delayed flights and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers. In addition, the report contains information on airline bumping, reports of mishandled baggage filed by consumers with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. This report also includes reports of incidents involving pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.

FMI: www.bts.gov

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