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US airlines boost on-time performance, report fewer cancelled flights and long tarmac delays

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WASHINGTON - Airlines are doing a better job of arriving on time, although more than one in five flights still run late.

The U.S. Transportation Department said Tuesday that the nation's biggest airlines achieved an on-time arrival rating of 79.6 per cent in April. That is up from 77.6 per cent in March and 77.3 per cent in April 2013.

The most punctual airlines were Hawaiian, Alaska and Virgin America. The most likely to be late were ExpressJet, Southwest Airlines and Envoy, which used to be called American Eagle.

The government said that cancelled flights were down — 1.1 per cent of domestic flights, compared with 1.8 per cent in April 2013. And no domestic flights were stuck on the ground for more than three hours, although one international flight remained on the tarmac for four hours, exceeding the limit in federal rules.

The airlines reported that for every 1,000 passengers in April, there were 2.92 bags that were lost, stolen, damaged or delayed, down slightly from the 3.07 rate in April 2013. Virgin America rated best at bag handling, while Envoy was worst by a wide margin.

Complaints to the government rose 16 per cent, but the number of consumers who filed a formal complaint remained tiny — 1,259 complaints out of 483,499 flights that were tracked. Southwest had the lowest rate of complaints; Frontier Airlines had the highest.

The Transportation Department report covers 12 airline companies but excludes smaller carriers such as Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air because their revenue from domestic flights is less than 1 per cent of the industry total.

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The report can be found at: http://1.usa.gov/TG7FF0

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