WASHINGTON (AP) - More bad news for an airline industry plagued
with safety concerns and buckling under record fuel costs.
U.S. Transportation Department data released today show that
nearly 30 percent of the nation's domestic flights were late or
canceled in March.
It was the worst March on record and second-worst opening
quarter for a year since comparable data began being collected in
1995. Fort Worth-based American Airlines had the worst March with
only 62 percent of its flights arriving on time.
Still, the March results for the overall industry were slightly
better than February's, when more than 31 percent of the nation's
domestic flights arrived late, were canceled or diverted.
One reason for the continued period of historically poor
performance is that airlines are replacing big planes with smaller
ones to fly with fewer empty seats. But industry analysts say that
crowds the skies and gates.
Weather also remains a problem. In March, more than 41 percent
of late flights were delayed by weather, up from about 38 percent
in the year-ago period.
Also in the last two months, United Airlines, Dallas-based
Southwest Airlines, American, Delta and others have grounded
hundreds of flights. That's after revelations of a too-cozy
relationship between the industry and regulators.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)