Isle airlines top on-time ranks
Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines achieved the top two on-time domestic performances in the industry in 2007, a dismal year nationally that saw a quarter of domestic flights fail to arrive within 15 minutes of schedule.
More than 26 percent of commercial flights in the U.S. arrived late or were canceled last year as rising passenger demand and an industry preference for smaller planes intensified congestion. It was the industry's second-poorest performance on record -- and analysts say it is likely to get worse.
But both Hawaiian and Aloha easily surpassed the national on-time performance average of 73.4 percent, according to data released yesterday in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Report. Hawaiian posted the industry's best on-time performance for the fourth consecutive year with 93.3 percent. Aloha was second at 92.2 percent. The results included both interisland and mainland flights.
Mesa Air Group, which operates interisland carrier go!, was 11th of 20 carriers at 73.1 percent for its nationwide service. Go! numbers are not broken out separately.
In other categories, Hawaiian was first in fewest mishandled-baggage complaints for the third straight year, as well as second in fewest cancellations, third in fewest oversales and sixth in fewest complaints.
Aloha had fewest complaints, second-fewest mishandled bags, fourth-fewest oversales and fifth-fewest cancellations.
The only time passengers nationwide had more difficulty getting to their destinations on time was in 2000, when more than 27 percent of flights were tardy or canceled. Back then, there were 31 percent fewer flights than in 2007, when carriers operated nearly 7.5 million one-way trips.
Excluding cancellations, however, 2007 was the worst on record for flight delays, with 24.2 percent arriving late, compared with 23.9 percent in 2000, according to government statistics that date back to 1995. The worst month of the year for the nation's 20 largest airlines was December, when more than a third of all flights were late or canceled, mostly because of the weather.
There is no sign of improvement on the horizon, analysts said, because airlines continue to replace larger aircraft with smaller ones. The practice is intended to maximize profit margins by flying with fewer empty seats, but it also means more flights and more congestion and delays.
The use of smaller planes also increases airlines' exposure to rising fuel prices, since it costs them more money per seat to operate, said Robert Mann, an airline consultant in Port Washington, N.Y. The industry has said that rising fuel prices are expected to again cut into profits this year and some airlines have raised their fuel surcharges to compensate.