Just one in every five flights was late in August the government says, an improvement from earlier in the summer.

The Department of Transportation reported Wednesday that 78.8% of flights arrived on time in August. That was significantly better than the on-time arrival rates of 73.1% in July and 71.9% in June. But it was down from the 79.1% on-time rate from August 2012.

Among the biggest U.S. airlines, Delta's on-time performance improved to 85% from 74.6% in July. That was good enough for third overall behind Hawaiian Airlines (94.3%) and Alaska Airlines (85.1%).

American Airlines ranked fifth, with 81.3% of its flights arriving on time. That's a strong showing for American. In the April-June quarter of this year the airline ranked 14th out of 16 major airlines, with an on-time rate of just 72.8%.

The airlines with the lowest on-time arrival rates in August were JetBlue at 72.6%, Southwest at 73.8%, and American Eagle at 74.2%.

Carriers reported a mishandled baggage rate of 3.12 reports per 1,000 passengers in August, down from both August 2012's rate of 3.38 and July 2013's rate of 3.68.

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