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April '04 Flight Delays Down From March, Up from Previous April

April '04 Flight Delays Down From March, Up from Previous April

DOT 87-04
Bill Mosley

Monday, June 7, 2004 - The nation's largest airlines experienced fewer flight delays in April than in March but had a slightly higher rate of delays than a year ago, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to information filed with the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 83.0 percent in April. This improved on the 81.3 percent on-time arrival percentage of March but fell below the 86.9 percent rate posted in April 2003, when 17 carriers filed on-time performance reports.

The monthly report also includes data on the causes of flight delays, as well as information on flight cancellations, reports of mishandled baggage filed with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Causes of Flight Delays

In April, the carriers filing on-time performance reported that 6.86 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.31 percent in March; 4.58 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.08 percent in March; 4.06 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.28 percent in March; 0.54 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.58 percent in March; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.05 in March. The department noted that weather is a factor not only in the extreme-weather category, but also in the aviation-system category – which includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT's Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved – and the late-arriving aircraft category. Airlines first began reporting causes of delays in June 2003.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at .

Flight Cancellations

The consumer report also includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In April, the carriers canceled 0.8 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, well below both the 1.2 percent rate recorded in both April 2003 and the 1.3 percent mark of March 2004.

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.67 reports per 1,000 passengers in April, slightly higher than April 2003's 3.55 rate but well below March 2004's 4.29.

Complaints About Airline Service

In April, the department received 556 complaints from consumers about airline service, 16.8 percent more than the 476 received in April 2003 but 13.4 percent fewer than the total of 642 filed in March 2004.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in April against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The department received a total of 42 disability-related complaints in April, 68 percent more than the 25 received in April 2003 but 4.5 percent fewer than the 44 filed in March 2004.

Complaints About Discrimination

In April, the department received seven complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – compared to the totals of nine received in April 2003 and 11 in February 2004.

Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, Room 4107, 400 7 th St., S.W. , Washington , DC 20590 ; by e-mail at; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.

Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline ticket offices or their travel agents. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.

The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOT's World Wide Web site at It is available in "pdf" and Microsoft Word format.

Air Travel Consumer Report April 2004
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 19 Reporting Carriers


83.0 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 94.9 percent
2. ATA Airlines – 87.6 percent
3. SkyWest Airlines – 87.1 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. America West Airlines – 76.9 percent
2. Continental Airlines – 78.6 percent
3. American Eagle Airlines – 78.7 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. US Airways Flight 1614 from Pittsburgh to Newark , NJ – late 83.33 percent of the time
1. ExpressJet Airlines flight 2657 from Newark , NJ to Buffalo , NY – late 83.33 percent of the time
3. ExpressJet Airlines flight 2383 from Burlington , VT to Newark , NJ – late 80.77 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. American Eagle Airlines – 1.9 percent
2. America West Airlines – 1.8 percent
3. Atlantic Coast Airlines – 1.5 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. JetBlue Airways – 0.0 percent*
2. Continental Airlines – 0.2 percent
3. AirTran Airways – 0.2 percent

* JetBlue cancelled three of 7,428 scheduled flights in March .