Airport on-time flights soaring
Written by Scott Blake on March 5, 2014
Miami International Airport ranks high in on-time flight performance among major US airports, but with one large caveat: federal statistics only track nonstop domestic flights.
Miami International offers more international flights than any other US airport and nearly half of the county-owned airport’s 40.5 million passengers last year came from international flights, according to Miami International officials.
Among nonstop domestic flights, Miami International ranked first in the nation in on-time performance in December, the most recent month for which statistics are available.
According to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 78.34% of arriving flights and 78.50% of departing flights at Miami International were on time in December, tops in both categories.
For all of 2013, Miami International ranked sixth in the nation with 81.97% of arriving flights being on-time and ranked 13th in the nation with 80.70% of departing flights on time.
Miami International’s on-time performance ranked high despite the airport moving a record number of passengers last year.
“Our positive growth isn’t simply about moving passengers and cargo,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio Gonzalez, “it’s about creating new jobs for our residents, spurring trade and commerce, and propelling the economy forward here in Miami-Dade County and across the Sunshine State.”
American Airlines is by far Miami International’s largest carrier. In December, 80.27% of American’s arriving domestic flights were on time and 78.11% of departing flights were on time, statistics show.
For the whole year, the top five major airports in on-time arrival rate were Miami; Washington, DC; Charlotte, NC; Seattle, and Detroit. The top five in on-time departure rate were Salt Lake City; Portland, OR; Seattle; Minneapolis/St. Paul; and Washington, DC.
All carriers nationwide posted an on-time arrival rate of 68.9% in December, down from both December 2012’s 76.6% and November 2013’s 83.5%, according to the US Department of Transportation’s latest Air Travel Consumer Report.
In addition, reporting carriers canceled 2.9% of their scheduled domestic flights in December, up from both the 1.6% cancellation rate posted in December 2012 and the 1% rate posted in November 2013.
At Miami International, only 1.36% of arriving domestic flights and 1.35% of domestic departing flights were cancelled in December, statistics show.
Nationwide, airlines with the highest on-time arrival rates in December were Hawaiian Airlines (92.4%), Virgin America (85.6%) and Alaska Airlines (85.5%). Airlines with the lowest on-time arrival rates in December were Southwest Airlines (57.7%), Frontier Airlines (60.2%) and American Eagle Airlines (60.5%), according to the Air Travel Consumer Report.
Aside from potential flight delays, passengers on international flights at Miami International and other US airports also have wait times to be processed through Customs and Border Protection stations.
Wait times at Miami International have decreased from a year ago, when many arriving international passengers had to wait several hours to be processed through customs. Local tourism officials grew concerned that excessive waits could dampen international travel to Miami.
In December, federal and county officials announced an agreement designed to decrease customs wait times. The agreement allows the Miami-Dade Aviation Department to pay US Customs and Border Protection for additional overtime staffing during peak travel periods.
Miami International was one of only three US airports chosen for the federal pilot program. Officials said the agreement allows the county to reimburse Customs and Border Protection up to $6 million over five years, equating to a maximum average of 800 additional customs inspector hours a month.
The agreement seems to have improved the situation from a year ago. Last Thursday, for example, customs waits at Miami’s North Terminal averaged about 23 minutes, with an hourly average on that day ranging from 5 minutes to 36 minutes.
Also on that day, the maximum custom waits in the North Terminal ranged from 17 minutes to 88 minutes, according to Customs and Border Protection’s website.
On another issue that might affect on-time flight performance, airline pilots are speaking out about a pilot shortage in the regional airline industry, saying pilots are reluctant to work for reduced pay. A recent report from the US Government Accountability Office detailed the problem.
“The GAO report reinforces what pilots have known for a long time – there’s a sufficiently large pool of pilots to meet current and projected demand,” said Capt. Keith Wilson, president of the Allied Pilots Association.
“They’re just not interested in working at entry-level pay in the regional airline industry, which is the typical starting point for new commercial pilots,” Mr. Wilson added. “It’s a broken business model, not a pilot shortage.”