News Article - July 08, 2008

Still, Phila. International ranked 25th in arrivals and 24th in departures among 32 airports studied.

By Linda Loyd

Inquirer Staff Writer

  Philadelphia International Airport's on-time record improved in May compared to a year ago, boosted by the performance of US Airways, federal data released yesterday showed. Commercial flights arrived at Philadelphia on time 75.2 percent of the time, up from 69.2 percent in May last year.

   Planes left on time 79 percent of the time, an improvement over the 74 percent on-time departures in May 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Report. Despite progress, Philadelphia International still ranked 25th in on-time arrivals and 24th in on-time departures among 32 airports. May is the most recent month for which statistics were available.

   US Airways, which carries two-thirds of Philadelphia passengers, ranked fourth among the 10 largest U.S. airlines, with on-time arrivals of 83.6 percent. Hawaiian and Pinnacle airlines topped the overall list. Only AirTran, Skywest and Delta had better on-time arrivals than US Airways among major airlines. Philadelphia International's improved on-time record "is really good news," said James M. Tyrrell, the city's deputy aviation director.

   He cited US Airways' on-time trend, a move by airlines to reduce capacity - seats and flights - and the Federal Aviation Administration's air-space redesign for the East Coast aimed at easing air-traffic congestion. Could Philadelphia ever be a top 10 airport in on-time performance?

   The goal is laudable, but would be tough to achieve, Tyrrell said. Philadelphia is "hemmed in" between New York and Washington and deals with heavy traffic volume and weather issues - thunderstorms, snow and cold that cause delays. "You would always expect airports in the Sun Belt, like Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix, to have better on-time performances," Tyrrell said, "because they have fewer weather occurrences." Salt Lake City had the best on-time record for May; Newark, N.J., had the worst.

   American Airlines, the nation's largest airline, had the worst on-time record, getting passengers to their destinations as scheduled only 67.3 percent of the time. American was followed by United Airlines, the second-largest carrier, which reported 72.4 percent of on-time arrivals, and Continental Airlines, with 75.4 percent. Airlines improved their baggage handling in May. About 4.6 passengers out of every 1,000 reported a mishandled bag during the month, compared with nearly 6 per 1,000 a year earlier. Reports of mishandled baggage by US Airways improved in May to about 3.86 reports per 1,000 passengers from 7.17 reports a year ago. Reported passenger complaints fell to 885 in May from 930 a year earlier.

   US Airways, based in Tempe, Ariz., ranked ninth in customer complaints among the 10 largest carriers. US Airways logged 93 complaints in May, a rate of 1.94 per 100,000 passengers, compared to 136 passenger complaints in May 2007. Delta Air Lines had the most complaints: 127 customer gripes, a rate of 2.14 per 100,000.

Source - Philadelphia Inquirer