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Sandy pushes down airline on-time performance in October

December 11, 2012|By Hugo Martin
  • Passengers stranded by Superstorm Sandy at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Oct. 31.
Passengers stranded by Superstorm Sandy at New York's John F. Kennedy… (Mehdi Taamallah / AFP/Getty…)

While Superstorm Sandy forced the cancellation of thousands of flights in late October and early November, the on-time performance of those planes that took to the air did not drop dramatically.

The on-time performance of the nation's largest airlines dropped to 80% in October, compared with 85.5% in October 2011, according to statistics released Tuesday by the U.S Department of Transportation.

The worst on-time rates this October were turned in by American Airlines (68%), JetBlue (74%), Express Jet (77%) and United Airlines (77%), according to the statistics.

Airlines industry experts credit the airlines for saving many of their passengers the headache of waiting in airports for delayed planes by simply canceling the flights hours and days in advance of the storm.

The airlines canceled a combined 14,624 flights in October, most of which were scheduled to fly in and out of East Coast airports in the path of the storm. That represents 2.8% of all flights in the month.

Only two flights, both departing from Denver on Oct. 24, were delayed on an airport tarmac for more than three hours in October. Both flights were delayed by a snowstorm, not Sandy.

Federal rules that took effect in 2010 prohibit airlines from keeping passengers stranded on a grounded domestic flight for more than three hours without allowing passengers to return to the terminal. On international flights, the limit is four hours. Airlines that violate the rules can be fined up to $27,500 per passenger.

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Follow Hugo Martin on Twitter at @hugomartin

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