According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report for January, the nation’s largest airlines posted an on-time arrival rate of 83.7 percent in January, up from the 76.3 percent on-time rate in January 2011, but down slightly from December 2011’s 84.4 percent rate. On-time arrival performance during January 2012 was the highest January on-time arrival percentage in the 18 years with comparable numbers.
According to the DOT, cancellations were also down in January from a year ago, as carriers canceled 1.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, down from January 2011’s 3.9 percent cancellation rate, but up from December 2011’s 0.8 percent. Airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights or tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights in January.
The larger U.S. airlines have been required to file complete reports on their long tarmac delays for domestic flights since October 2008. Under a new rule that took effect Aug. 23, 2011, all U.S. and foreign airlines operating at least one aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats must report lengthy tarmac delays at U.S. airports.
Also beginning on Aug. 23, airlines operating international flights may not allow tarmac delays at U.S. airports to last longer than four hours. There is a separate three-hour limit on tarmac delays involving domestic flights, which went into effect in April 2010.