July 9, 2009

Airlines’ on-time record inches up

U.S. airlines' on-time record improved slightly in May compared to the previous month and May 2008.

Overall, the 19 biggest carriers reported 80.5 percent of their flights arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled time, USA Today said Thursday. In April 79.5 percent of flights were on time and the figure was 79 percent in May 2008.

The U.S. Department of Transportation releases the Air Travel Consumer Report every month. The report said there were fewer canceled flights in May, less than 1 percent, than in April or May 2008.

Airline performance has been improving consistently in recent months. Some observers said the apparent improvement in on-time performance comes partly from airlines stretching out schedules so pilots have later scheduled arrival times.

Comair, a Delta regional carrier, had the worst on-time record, 65.7 percent. AirTran's rate was 75.6 percent, the worst among major carriers.

Alaska's on-time rate was 85.7 percent, the leader among major airlines.

The most-delayed flight was JetBlue's Flight 348 from Sarasota/Bradenton to Kennedy International Airport in New York, arriving on time only 10 percent of the time.