Airline flight delays up from a year ago; cancellations down

SHARE Airline flight delays up from a year ago; cancellations down

AirTran Airways tops all U.S. airlines in the latest rankings for on-time arrivals, knocking off perennial winner Hawaiian Airlines.

The bad news for passengers who love punctuality: You can’t fly on AirTran anymore.

The low-fare carrier flew its last revenue flight on Dec. 28 and has been folded into Southwest Airlines, which bought AirTran in 2011.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday that 80.6 percent of domestic flights on the 14 biggest airlines arrived within 14 minutes of schedule in November. That was better than October’s 80.0 percent on-time rate, but down from 83.5 percent in November 2013.

AirTran posted a 90.4 percent rating, and Hawaiian was second at 89.4 percent.

Here are the government’s rankings of the leading airlines and their on-time performance for November. Some airlines, including Spirit and Allegiant, are not included because they operate fewer flights. The federal government counts a flight as on time if it arrives within 14 minutes of schedule.

  1. AirTran Airways, 90.4 percent (a)
  2. Hawaiian Airlines, 89.4 percent
  3. Delta Air Lines, 86.6 percent
  4. Alaska Airlines, 84.7 percent
  5. US Airways, 83.0 percent(b)
  6. Virgin America, 82.7 percent
  7. JetBlue Airways, 81.1 percent
  8. Southwest Airlines, 81.0 percent
  9. ExpressJet, 80.7 percent
  10. United Airlines, 80.6 percent
  11. American Airlines, 78.2 percent(b)
  12. SkyWest, 76.4 percent
  13. Frontier Airlines, 72.3 percent
  14. Envoy Air, 69.3 percent(b)

Total for all reporting airlines: 80.6 percent

(a) AirTran ended passenger flights on Dec. 28; it is owned by Southwest Airlines Co.

(b) American, US Airways and Envoy are owned by American Airlines Group Inc.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

The outcome was like an upset in football. AirTran beat its recent on-time rate by about 10 percentage points. Hawaiian slipped a bit but is almost certain to finish 2014 with the best on-time record for the full year by a wide margin. It has a built-in advantage — many of its domestic flights are short hops between Hawaiian islands, far from the snow and ice of the Northeast and upper Midwest.

Among the four largest airlines, Delta performed best at 86.6 percent.

Envoy Air finished last among all airlines, with an on-time rating of 69.3 percent. Envoy operates many American Eagle regional flights for American Airlines.

Passengers on four November flights sat on the tarmac for more than three hours, a violation of federal rules that could result in fines. Three of those delays occurred during a Nov. 22 ice storm in Detroit.

Airlines canceled 4,301 domestic flights, or just under 1 percent, slightly lower than the rate a year earlier.

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