U.S. airlines' on-time performance deteriorated in June and they mishandled fewer bags than a month earlier, the Department of Transportation said Tuesday, although more complaints were made and fuel costs fell.
The DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics said the 18 carriers reporting on-time performance had an overall rate of 76.4%, up from 76.1% a year earlier but worse than the 79.9% rate in May. The agency said carriers canceled 1.5% of their scheduled flights, flat with a year earlier and compared with 1.2% in May.
A flight is counted as being on time if it operated less than 15 minutes after the scheduled time shown in the carriers' computerized reservation system.
Airlines have been increasing a bit of capacity to satisfy a recovery in air travel after woefully low levels over the past two years. The industry cut capacity in response to a decline in travel during the recession, leaving airports and the skies less crowded and fewer flight delays and cancellations for bad weather or other problems.
Comair Ltd. (COM.JO) again had the worst on-time performance in June at 64.9%, while Hawaiian Holdings Inc.'s (HA) Hawaiian Airlines again had the best, with a 93.62% rate.
AMR Corp.'s (AMR) American Eagle had the second-worst rate, at 67.9%, followed by ExpressJet Holdings Inc. (XJT) at 69.7%. Alaska Air Group Inc.'s (ALK) namesake airline and US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) again followed Hawaiian atop the timeliness list at 88.9% and 83.4%, respectively.
Meanwhile, the industry had a mishandled baggage rate of 3.72 per 1,000 passengers in June, down from 4.26 a year earlier but worse than May's 3.29 rate. The DOT also received 1,419 overall complaints in June, compared with 748 a year earlier and 801 in May.
The drop in travel demand led many carriers to impose new fees for checked luggage. As fewer travelers check bags, airlines have fewer occasions to mishandle them.
Also, as traffic has been rising so has fuel costs. The Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics said fuel costs averaged $2.21, down 4.7% from May but up 16% from last June.
-By Tess Stynes, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2481; Tess.Stynes@dowjones.com;