Airlines Have Best First Quarter Arrival Numbers, Ever

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Airlines as a group had their best on time arrival performance in the first quarter since the Transportation Department began to collect data in 1995. The news was particularly good for customers of the highest rating airlines–Hawaiian Airlines, AirTran, and US Airways (NYSE: LCC). The data was less positive for customers of the three lowest rated airlines–United (NYSE UA), ExpressJet Airlines, and Virgin America. United can claim some of its problems stem from its merger with Continental, but the excuse will only be good for another quarter or two.

The most eye-popping numbers from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report was the wait time for the flights which stayed on the ground the longest after their planned departure times. The American Air flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to St. Louis had a wait time of 219 minutes on March 17. The Shuttle America flight from New York LaGuardia to St. Louis had a wait time of 187 minutes on March 17. 

The survey found

The 15 carriers reporting on-time performance posted an on-time arrival rate of 84.0 percent during the first quarter of 2012. The previous first-quarter record was the 81.3 percent on-time arrival mark set during January-March 2002

In terms of airline performance

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 92.5 percent

2. AirTran Airways – 90.9 percent

3. US Airways – 87.3 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. ExpressJet Airlines – 74.1 percent

2. Virgin America – 74.9 percent

3. United Airlines – 77.4 percent