Wednesday, November 25, 2015         

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Superstorm Sandy disrupts air travel

Only 8 out of 10 flights were on time during October, say federal airline data

By Associated Press


The on-time record of U.S. airlines got soaked by superstorm Sandy, as late flights and cancellations surged in October.

The Department of Transportation said Tuesday that only 80.2 percent of flights in October arrived on time. That was worse than the 83.3 percent mark in September and the 85.5 percent rate in October 2011.

American Airlines had the worst on-time record for the second straight month, while Hawaiian Airlines held on to its usual perch on top of the government rankings.

Rankings of the largest U.S. airlines for on-time arrivals in October:
1. Hawaiian Airlines 94.8%
2. Alaska Airlines 86.8%
3. AirTran Airways 86%
4. Delta Air Lines 85.5%
5. Mesa 84.3%
6. US Airways 83.2%
7. Southwest Airlines 82.4%
8. Virgin America 81.5%
9. American Eagle 81.2%
10. SkyWest 80.8%
11. Frontier Airlines 78%
12. ExpressJet 76.9%
13. United Airlines 76.7%
14. JetBlue Airways 74%
15. American Airlines 67.7%
Average of all airlines 80.2%
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The airlines canceled 2.8 percent of their domestic flights, nearly four times as many as in September and as in October 2011. Superstorm Sandy caused more than 12,000 cancellations — 83 percent of all canceled flights for the month. The storm battered the Northeast in late October, causing airlines to scrub flights in New York and other major cities.

JetBlue Airways, United Airlines and US Airways had the highest cancellation rates. All have many flights to and from the Northeast.

Airlines reported two flights that were held on the tarmac for at least three hours, both in Denver during a snowstorm Oct. 24. One was operated by Frontier Airlines, the other by Shuttle America. Airlines can be fined for such long delays.

Among the largest airports, travelers were most likely to arrive on time at Salt Lake City — 88.1 percent of the time — and most likely to be late at San Francisco — 63.6 percent of the time.

Passengers reported a slight increase in lost, damaged or delayed checked luggage — 2.83 mishandled bags for every 1,000 passengers, up 7 percent from a year ago.

Overall complaints about airline service jumped 50 percent, but the actual number, 1,300, was a tiny fraction of all air travelers. Few passengers bother to file a formal complaint with the government when things go wrong.

Southwest Airlines had the lowest complaint rate, followed by its AirTran Airways subsidiary. United had the highest rate of complaints, followed by American.

Hawaiian Airlines had the fewest canceled flights among the nation's 15 largest carriers.

Hawaiian's flights arrived on schedule 94.8 percent of the time throughout October, which was 14.6 percentage points better than the industry average. The airline also ranked first for fewest flight cancellations at 0.2 percent, representing 12 cancellations out of 6,204 total flights.

Hawaiian was 10th in mishandled baggage reports with 2.95 — or 2,264 reports overall — per 1,000 passengers and 13th in consumer complaints with 1.97 — or 16 overall — per 100,000 enplanements.

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