Airlines' first quarter on-time performance only slightly worse than last year
Monday, May 5th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Despite snowstorms that hit the East and Midwest during the first three months of the year, airlines posted their second-best on-time performance since 1995, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported Monday.
Bureau spokesman David Smallen said the airlines were prompter than in any first quarter except 2002, the best year since the bureau began compiling the statistic nine years ago.
During the first three months of this year, 78.5 percent of flights arrived on time, 1.7 percent fewer than on-time arrivals during the corresponding period in 2002. Late departures rose less than 1 percent, to 15.5 percent.
Smallen attributed the overall performance to a decline in air traffic and improvements in the operations of the air traffic control system.
Flight cancellations jumped 70 percent during the period, to 2.34 percent of scheduled flights from 1.38 percent.
Discount carrier JetBlue, one of the few airlines to report a profitable first quarter, canceled only 12 flights between January and March, or 0.2 percent of its operations. That's one-fourth the rate of Continental, the airline with the next best cancellation record.
``That's remarkable,'' said David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association. ``It may be a function of their brand-new airplanes.''
There also were 9 percent more complaints about mishandled baggage during the first three months of 2003, the first quarter the government employees screened all checked luggage for explosives. Complaints rose 9 percent to 4.76 reports per 100,000 passengers, from 4.36 per 100,000.