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Most Major Airlines Agree to Make Public Flight Delay Records

July 14, 1987|ROBERT E. DALLOS | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Most of the nation's major airlines agreed Monday to provide information designed to be made public each month concerning their records on domestic flight delays, flight cancellations and lost baggage.

However, one major carrier, American Airlines, did not join the agreement, saying it did not go far enough.

The offer by 13 carriers, an apparent effort to head off action by Congress or the Department of Transportation, would require the airlines to file monthly reports with the department disclosing the total number of their scheduled domestic flights and the numbers that departed on time and late, arrived on time and late or were canceled.

The airlines, speaking through the Air Transport Assn., a trade group, asked the department to endorse the proposal. The federal agency would decide how the information would be made public.

"The airlines have entered into the agreement to provide the traveling public with pertinent, comparable information that will enable consumers to make better-informed air travel plans," said William F. Bolger, president of the Air Transport Assn.

The ATA said in a filing with the department that consumers will be "better served if they have access to information that will enable them to compare the performance of one airline with another, and determine with the assistance of such information which airline they should patronize." Last month, the Transportation Department proposed and requested comment on rules that could result in the establishment of an on-time performance standard for airlines. The carriers would risk regulatory enforcement action if they did not meet the standard.

The department sought public comments on the problems of flight delays and other problems of airline service.

Also, the Senate Commerce Committee is considering a truth-in-scheduling bill that would require the airlines to follow more realistic flight schedules. Consumers have criticized the carriers for promising quicker flights than they are capable of delivering in an attempt to attract more passengers.

Some of the problems are not their fault, the airlines insist, especially those involving delays. They said a large number of delays are caused by bad weather, inadequate air routes and airport capacity.

The carriers also complained that some of the Transportation Department's tentative requirements are unnecessary. Among these, they said, are proposals that airlines be required to disclose their performance on reservations made by telephone, statistics on numbers of passengers denied boarding because of overbooking and on passengers who miss connections because of late flights and information on cabin configurations and discount fare marketing practices.

The airlines said that adequate means exist to disclose figures on passengers denied boarding and on missing baggage disclosures, and that performance regarding telephone reservations is readily discernible by consumers: "Poor airline performance in this area risks an immediate consequence, the loss of a potential customer," the ATA said.

Discount fare marketing, it said, "reflects the workings of the marketplace. . . . We do not believe that . . . competitiveness has created conditions that require additional regulatory action."

American Airlines, in a separate filing with the Department of Transportation, called for all airlines to make full disclosure of service quality information, including on-time performance, reservation answering time, discount fare availability and statistics on passengers denied boarding due to overbooking, baggage handling, passengers who miss connections because of late flights and cabin configuration.

"The ATA agreement does not go far enough," Al Becker, an American Airlines spokesman, said.

The airlines participating in the ATA agreement are Alaska Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Pacific Southwest Airlines, Pan American World Airways, Piedmont Airlines, Southwest Airlines, TranStar Airlines, Trans World Airlines, United Airlines and USAir.

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