You are here

Airlines On-Time Performance Improves in April 2005

Airlines On-Time Performance Improves in April 2005


DOT 85-05
Bill Mosley

Thursday, June 2, 2005 - The nation's largest airlines experienced improved on-time performance in April 2005 compared to both the previous month and April of last year, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration, the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 83.4 percent in April, slightly better than April 2004's 83.0 percent and well above March 2005's 76.9 percent.

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


The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In April, the carriers canceled 1.3 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, up from April 2004's 0.8 percent rate but below March 2005's 1.6 percent.

Causes of Flight Delays

The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 5.76 percent of their April flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 7.99 percent in March 2005; 4.35 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 6.46 percent in March; 4.44 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.88 percent in March; 0.57 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.88 percent in March; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.07 percent in March. Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT's Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category. Airlines first began reporting causes of delays in June 2003.

Data collected by BTS also show the percentage of overall flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In April, 3.29 percent of flights were delayed by weather, down 23.67 percent from April 2004, when 4.31 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and down 34.20 percent from March when 5.00 percent of flights were delayed by weather.

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

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 5.18 reports per 1,000 passengers in April, higher than April 2004's 3.67 rate but well below March 2005's 6.30 mark.

Complaints About Airline Service

In April, the Department received 646 complaints from consumers about airline service, up 15.2 percent from the total of 561 received in April 2004 but 6.4 percent fewer than the 690 filed in March 2005.

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 35 disability-related complaints in April, 22.2 percent fewer than the 45 complaints received in April 2004 and 14.6 percent below the 41 complaints filed in March 2005.

Complaints About Discrimination

In April, the Department received five complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – fewer than both the total of six received in April 2004 and 11 in March 2005.

Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, Room 4107, 400 7th St. SW, 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 2005
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

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


83.4 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 95.6 percent

2. ATA Airlines – 89.0 percent

3. Skywest Airlines – 87.6 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Alaska Airlines – 77.0 percent

2. JetBlue Airways – 77.0 percent

3. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 77.3 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. Comair flight 5322 from New York JFK to Charlotte, NC – late 96.67 percent of the time

2. AirTran Airways flight 47 from Atlanta to Las Vegas – late 83.33 percent of the time

3. Southwest Airlines flight 1660 from Las Vegas to Phoenix – late 80.77 percent of the time

4. AirTran Airways flight 576 from Atlanta to Newark, NJ – late 80.00 percent of the time

4. AirTran Airways flight 753 from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale, FL – late 80.00 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 3.8 percent

2. American Eagle Airlines – 2.3 percent

3. Comair – 2.0 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.1 percent

2. Continental Airlines – 0.2 percent

3. Southwest Airlines – 0.3 percent