Airlines set December record for on-time rate

By Bill Poling
U.S. airlines turned in a stellar performance with on-time arrivals in December, as 84.4% of domestic flights arrived within 15 minutes of schedule, the best December on record according to the Transportation Department.

Apparently benefiting from mild winter weather across much of the country, the airlines also reported no long tarmac delays exceeding DOT standards, while turning in a 0.8% cancellation rate, the best rate for December in 17 years.

Industry on-time performance for the year was closer to historical norms, with an on-time arrival rate of 79.6%, little changed from 79.8% in 2010. From 1987 to the present, the cumulative industry on-time rate is 78.2%

Carriers improved their baggage handling in December, recording 3.37 mishandled baggage reports per 1,000 passengers, down from a rate of 4.72 a year earlier. For the calendar year, the rate was 3.39, down from 3.51 in 2010.

The rate of involuntary denied boarding also fell, declining in the third quarter to 0.71 passengers per 10,000 boardings, down from a rate of 0.8 during the same period of 2010. For the year, the denied boarding rate was 0.81, down from 1.09 in 2010.
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