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Winter Storms Help Make Nearly One-Third of Jan. Flights Late

By Patrick Morris – Mar 18, 2014 at 4:01PM

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As a result of winter storms, on-time flights plummeted in January of this year across the United States according to the Department of Transportation.

As a result of the rash of bad weather in January, the on-time arrival rate of flights in January fell to 67.7%, well below the 81% seen in January of 2013 and the 68.9% in posted December, the Department of Transportation reported today.

Hawaiian Airlines -- insulated from most of the bad weather on the mainland -- had the best on-time record at 92.8%. This January was the third-worst January since the Department of Transportation started keeping records two decades ago, beating only January 1996 and January 1999.

In addition, the report from the DOT found cancellations of flights were up dramatically as well. In January, 6.5% of flights were canceled, versus just 1.5% in January of last year, and 2.9% in December. The increase in cancelations was the biggest contributing factor to why the on-time arrival rate was lower in January 2014 compared to December 2013 as shown in the chart below:

On-Time Arrival Performance | Create Infographics.

The airlines with the highest and lowest on-time arrival rates are shown in the chart below:

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates 

Hawaiian Airlines -- 92.8%

ExpressJet Airlines -- 56%

Alaska Airlines -- 87.8%

JetBlue Airways -- 56.9%

Virgin America -- 84.3%

American Eagle Airlines -- 59.1%

For January the Department of Transportation also reported 18 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and three tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights. There was also a mishandled baggage rate of 5.54 reports per 1,000 passengers in January, up from the January 2013 rate of 3.41 and the December 2013 rate of 4.55.

In January, the Department received 1,713 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 24.9% from January 2013.
Despite the reduction in on-time flights as a result of the weather, both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines reported stronger year-over-year results in January. Delta noted that despite canceling 4,000 flights as a result of the storms, its passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) after excluding for weather-related impacts rose 4.5%. American Airlines saw its total revenue passenger miles rise 3.8% on the month.

Although the February numbers from the Department of Transportation will not be released for another month, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines Group all have reported that their traffic numbers were affected by the weather in February as well.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


Patrick Morris owns shares of Southwest Airlines. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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