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Friday, February 9, 2007

Regionals Take Brunt of Consumer Problems

Regionals were hit again by bad consumer reports from the Department of Transportation (DOT) Air Travel Consumer Report for the 12 months, ending in October 2006 with SkyWest (SKYW) posting one of the highest rates of cancelled flights and one of the lowest on-time arrival rates. The most frequently delayed flights were also SkyWest flights. American Eagle, Express Jet (XJT), SkyWest, Atlantic Southeast (ASA) and Mesa (MESA) topped the list for flight cancellations. ASA, however, moved from the worst on-time performance to 10th place.

What is not mentioned in the DOT reports is the fact that much of the problem should really be attributed to the regionals’ major partners. Drilling down into the statistics shows major causes include late arriving aircraft and major carrier computer programs that delay regional flights in favor of the larger aircraft operated by their partners. Industry analysts indicated the performance resulted from the worst weather year since 2000 when 27 percent of flights were cancelled. Flight delays dropped to 45 percent, despite the weather. Analysts suggested tight scheduling and turn-around times were to blame for the delays along with aggressive scheduling in peak hours which congested airports.

They, along with Comair were ranked 15th through 20th – at the bottom of the list for mishandled baggage. U.S. airlines experienced a lower rate of on-time flights and more reports of mishandled baggage last year than in 2005, but passengers filed fewer complaints with the government about airline service than they did the previous year, according to the DOT which was issued today.
According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the 20 airlines reporting on-time performance with DOT recorded an on-time arrival rate of 75.4 percent in 2006, down from 77.4 percent in 2005. These carriers also recorded a rate of 6.73 reports of mishandled baggage per 1,000 passengers last year, up from 2005 and the worst since 1990. However, the total of 8,321 complaints about airline service the Department received from consumers, was 4.8 percent below 2005’s complaint total.
The report also includes airline reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for 2006 and the fourth quarter of last year. In 2006, the U.S. carriers that report on-time performance, mishandled baggage data and bumping totals had a bumping rate of 1.01 per 10,000 passengers, up from the 0.88 rate for 2005.

On-Time, Flight-Cancellation Stats
Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 20 Reporting Carriers

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates
Aloha Airlines – 93.7 percent
Hawaiian Airlines – 90.1 percent
Delta Airlines– 80.8 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates
SkyWest Airlines – 63.9 percent
American Eagle Airlines – 64.3 percent
JetBlue Airways – 64.8 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights
1. SkyWest Airlines flight 4047 from Aspen, CO to Salt Lake City – late 100 percent of the time
2. SkyWest Airlines flight 4055 from Dallas/Fort Worth to Salt Lake City – late 100 percent of the time
3. SkyWest Airlines flight 4022 from Salt Lake City to Steamboat Springs, CO – late 100 percent of the time
4. SkyWest Airlines flight 4053 from New Orleans to Salt Lake City – late 100 percent of the time
5. SkyWest Airlines flight 5800 from Aspen, CO to Chicago O’Hare – late 94.44 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights
1. Frontier Airlines – 9.2 percent
2. SkyWest Airlines – 6.2 percent
3. United Airlines – 5.3 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights
1. JetBlue Airways – 0.4 percent
2. Aloha Airlines – 0.5 percent
3. Continental Airlines – 0.7 percent

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