WASHINGTON — The nation's leading airlines reported that 83% of their flights arrived on time in August, the fifth straight month in which their on-time performance was at least 80%, the Transportation Department reported Wednesday.
Air traveler complaints to the department's consumer affairs office, meanwhile, continued to decline, with only about one-third as many received during September as during the same month a year earlier and 20% fewer than were received in July.
The on-time statistics covered the 13 leading airlines. Their August performance was the second best since the monthly reporting began a year ago, the department said.
Delta Air Lines had the best on-time record among the largest carriers, with 86.9% of its flight arriving within 15 minutes of schedule in August, followed by Continental Airlines (86.8%) and American Airlines (85.9%).
Pittsburgh Airport Noted
The overall best on-time record was given to two smaller Sun Belt carriers--America West (91.5%) and Southwest Airlines (90.5%).
Pan American World Airways and USAir reported the worst on-time record with one of every four flights arriving late, the department said.
Under government rules, a flight is considered to be on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of schedule. Delays caused by weather are counted, but those caused by mechanical problems are not.
The Salt Lake City airport had the best arrival record in August, with 91.4% of the flights landing within 15 minutes of schedule. The Pittsburgh airport, where repairs on a runway have contributed to delays, had the worst record with 71.3% of the flights landing on time.
The reporting requirements were put into effect in September, 1987, after a summer of protests from members of Congress and air travelers about poor airline service and delays. The delays had peaked in the summer of 1986, prompting the government to direct airlines to make scheduling changes at some of the busiest airports.
But the Transportation Department's figures showed that during the past summer, the on-time record of the 13 monitored airlines averaged better than 83%. They have been at above 80% since April.
The department said complaints from passengers dropped dramatically in August to 20% fewer than in July and 66% fewer than August, 1987. During the month the department's consumer affairs office received 1,897 air travel complaints.
Hawaiian Airlines had the worst complaint record with 12.57 complaints for every 100,000 passengers flown in September, followed by Pan Am with 11.45.
The department released the September complaint figures with the August on-time statistics.
Meanwhile, in August the number of mishandled bags was down slightly, averaging 7.03 for every 1,000 passengers, compared to 7.15 in July.
Trans World Airlines had the highest number of mishandled baggage reports, with 10.77 for every 1,000 passengers, followed by Piedmont Airlines at 8.93 per 1,000 passengers.
PERFORMANCE BY CARRIER Overall percentage of flights arriving on time nationally in August: Airline: Percentage America West: 91.5 Southwest: 90.5 Delta: 86.9 Continental: 86.8 American: 85.9 Alaska: 83.7 Piedmont: 81.9 United: 81.0 Eastern: 80.8 TWA: 78.6 Northwest: 78.4 USAir: 75.0 Pan American: 74.3 Source: Dept. of Transportation ON-TIME FLIGHTS AT LAX Percentage of on-time flights at L.A. International Airport in August: Airline: Percentage Southwest: 91.5 American: 90.8 Delta: 90.3 Alaska: 87.4 America West: 86.9 USAir: 86.7 Continental: 84.7 United: 83.2 Eastern: 78.6 TWA: 77.6 Piedmont: 77.1 Pan American: 73.9 Northwest: 71.6 Source: Dept. of Transportation PASSENGER REPORTS OF MISHANDLED BAGGAGE These figures may not be comparable from airline to airline because of differing methods of reporting.
Airline Passengers Boarded Reports per 1,000 Passengers Southwest 1,655,373 3.72 Pan American 697,322 3.80 Eastern 2,914,732 6.09 United 5,509,423 6.49 Alaska 547,840 6.51 America West 1,137,120 6.56 American 5,764,894 6.79 Delta 5,396,786 6.87 Continental 3,555,524 6.93 USAir 3,386,481 7.53 Northwest 3,290,447 7.68 Piedmont 2,525,479 8.93 TWA 2,204,888 10.77
Source: Dept. of Transportation