Major U.S. airlines completed just 78.6% of flights on time in March, their worst showing since August as air travel recovers after the Sept. 11 attacks, a Transportation Department report said.
Major airlines have cut fares to boost traffic and recover from the attacks and a slump in corporate travel. Miles flown by paying passengers fell 8.8% in March, the smallest drop from a year-earlier month since the hijackings.
March's on-time rate fell from 84.7% in February and was the lowest since a rate of 76.2% in August. Still, the rate was up from 75.2% in March 2001 and marked the 12th straight month of improved results from a year-earlier month.
Continental Airlines Inc. and America West Holdings Corp.'s America West Airlines led the 10 biggest carriers in March by completing 84.8% of flights within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time. Northwest Airlines Corp. had the lowest on-time rate of 70.7%, followed by Alaska Air Group Inc.'s Alaska Airlines with at 73.3%.