Airlines improve on-time arrivals

Associated Press / October 7, 2009

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MINNEAPOLIS - Arriving on time was just a little bit easier for airline passengers in August.

The Transportation Department said yesterday that 79.7 percent of flights arrived on time in August. That was an improvement from 78.4 percent in August 2008, and 77.6 percent in July.

Southwest Airlines Co. was the most punctual of the large carriers, with an on-time arrival rate of 82.8 percent. Continental, US Airways, and United also came in above the average of 79.7 percent.

Northwest (now part of Delta Air Lines Inc.) and AirTran had the lowest on-time rate of the big carriers, near 74 percent.

Airlines say the biggest cause of delays was one late plane causing the next flight on the same aircraft to be late.

Passengers were a little more likely to have their luggage waiting for them, too. Reports of mishandled bags fell to 4.04 per 1,000 passengers in August, down from 4.98 a year earlier.