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Airlines' on-time record worsens

September 05, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The percentage of flight delays at the nation's largest airlines rose in July compared with a year ago, the government said Tuesday -- a reflection of rising travel demand, some bad weather and the increased use of smaller planes.

The airline industry's on-time performance in the first seven months of 2007 was its worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995. July's on-time performance was the 11th-worst on record.

The 20 carriers reported a combined on-time arrival rate of 69.8% in July, down from 73.7% a year ago, according to the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Through July, more than 25% of flights have arrived late.

"When we continue to see these record delays, it disappoints us . . . and certainly lets our customers down, but we're not surprised by the numbers," said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Assn., whose members include Continental Airlines Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp.

Castelveter said a planned upgrade of the system used to manage commercial and general aviation traffic would help reduce air and runway congestion.

The FAA last week awarded ITT Corp. a contract worth up to $1.8 billion for the initial phase of work on a new air traffic control system that relies on global positioning satellites.

Meantime, weather conditions caused more than 43% of delays in July, an increase of nearly 11% from the year-ago period, according to the data.

Hawaiian Holdings Inc.'s Hawaiian Airlines had the highest on-time arrival rate at 94.7%.

Atlantic Southeast Airlines had the lowest on-time rate at 54.2%.

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