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Friday, September 19, 2014         

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Airlines blame furloughs for delays in flights

By David Koenig

Associated Press

POSTED:



The nation's airlines struggled to stay on schedule in April, with nearly 1 in 4 flights arriving late, according to government figures.

The airlines blamed furloughs of federal air traffic controllers and bad weather. A nationwide computer outage at American Airlines added to the slowdown.

The Transportation Department said Thursday that among the 16 airlines that report such information, only 77.3 percent of flights arrived on time in April. That was down sharply from 86.3 percent in the same month last year and below the April average of 80.26 percent for the previous 18 years.

Nearly 2 percent of all domestic flights were canceled in April, almost double the rate from the previous April.

Asked for an explanation, Jean Medina, a spokes­woman for trade group Airlines for America, replied, "Short answer? Government-imposed air traffic controller furloughs."

In mid-April the Federal Aviation Administration began ordering about 10 percent of its controllers to stay home each day to help the agency meet automatic spending cuts. With fewer controllers to watch busy airspace, such as around New York and Washington, traffic slowed. After five days of complaints by airlines and passengers, Congress rushed through a bill to end the furloughs.

The airlines told the Transportation Department that 34.3 percent of April's delays were caused by bad weather, up from 28.5 percent in April 2012. They said that only 5.3 percent of delays were due to factors within their control, such as maintenance problems or crew shortages, a slight increase over April 2012.

Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines had the best on-time marks, with each over 85 percent, the government said. Hawaiian said 93 percent of its flights arrived on time in April and that no flights were canceled. Hawaiian has led U.S. carriers in on-time performance for the past nine years.

The worst performance was turned in by American Eagle, with just 67 percent of flights arriving on time. Eagle is the regional airline of AMR Corp., whose American Airlines subsidiary had the poorest rating among the nation's five biggest carriers.

Among the busiest 29 U.S. airports, passengers were most likely to be delayed on their way to Newark, N.J. — only 65.6 percent of flights arrived on time.

The rate of damaged, lost or delayed luggage rose slightly, to just over 3 bags for every 1,000 passengers.






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