O’Hare International Airport’s on-time performance dropped yet again in November, while performance at Midway Airport improved.
O’Hare’s November departure performance was the worst in the nation among major airports, at 72.44 percent on time — down from 79.93 percent a year earlier, according to new federal data released Tuesday.
In arrivals, O’Hare ranked 26 out of 29 airports, with an on-time rate of 76.46 percent. That was down from 81.18 percent in November 2013.
The naggingly poor performance came even though new O’Hare flight paths that launched in October 2013 were supposed to reduce delays in all kinds of weather. That’s not what federal data indicated Tuesday.
For November 2014, O’Hare flight operations and on-time departure rates were at their lowest monthly levels since at least 2005, data from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated. On-time 2014 arrivals for November hit their worst monthly rate since 2007.
Meanwhile, the big switch to using mostly parallel runways, instead of intersecting diagonal ones, has meant that the vast majority of flights now enter O’Hare from the east — over areas including parts of Chicago, Norridge and Schiller Park — and leave to the west, affecting Bensenville, Wood Dale and Itasca. The change has triggered a record number of jet noise complaints from irate Chicagoans and some suburban homeowners.
Since the new flight paths emerged, O’Hare’s on-time departure performance has dipped in 11 of 13 months and its on-time arrival rate has dropped in 10 of 13 months compared to the same month a year earlier, data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics show.
However, some late September and early October 2014 delays were the result of a Sep. 26 arson fire at a Federal Aviation Administration radar facility in Aurora that crippled air traffic across the country — especially in and out of O’Hare and Midway — for days.
On the good news front, although O’Hare’s performance fell in November, Midway’s improved that same month.
Midway’s on-time departure rate climbed to 79 percent in November, up from 69.77 a year earlier.
Midway’s arrival performance rose to 4th highest in the nation, at 85.03 percent, up from 79.53 percent.
FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro noted that O’Hare and Midway may have experienced different rates of delays because a large bulk of Midway’s routes are from the south, where weather is milder, while many of O’Hare’s flights originate in the east, which experiences colder weather, or the west, where some planes must fly over the Rocky Mountains.
In addition, Molinaro said, the closure of a diagonal O’Hare runway for part of November 2014 may have contributed to more delays compared to November 2013.
Spokesmen for the Chicago Department of Aviation did not respond to questions about the increase in O’Hare delays.