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More flights on time in April

U.S. airlines operated more flights on-time in April and far fewer passengers were stuck in long tarmac delays, the government said Thursday.

The 18 airlines that report statistics to the Transportation Department were on-time 85.3 percent of the time in April, compared with a rate of 79.1 percent a year earlier and 80 percent in March. Most delays were caused by late-arriving aircraft and aviation system delays, which include bad weather, heavy traffic, or airport and air traffic system slowdowns.

In April, DOT implemented new rules requiring airlines to let passengers off grounded airplanes after three hours or face potentially huge fines.

U.S. Airways posted the best on-time rate among major mainline carriers. It was third in the overall rankings behind Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines. American Airlines reported the worst on-time rate of big U.S. carriers. Its sister carrier, regional airline American Eagle, was last among all airlines reporting.

Only four planes were stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours, down from 25 in March and 81 in April 2009. One flight, an American Airlines jet from Atlanta to Miami, was stuck for more than four hours.

Airlines also did a better job of getting bags to their destinations. U.S. carriers had a mishandled baggage rate of 2.89 per 1,000 passengers in April, better than 3.89 in April a year ago and 3.72 in March.

-- Associated Press

By Michael Bolden  |  June 3, 2010; 12:56 PM ET
 
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