Airlines hampered by delays, cancellations

On-time arrival rate for first five months of 2007 sinks to lowest on record, while cancellations soar, government reports.

NEW YORK ( -- The nation's airlines experienced their worst delays in 13 years and posted a sharp increase in cancellations during the first five months of the year, according to figures released Tuesday by the Department of Transportation.

Of the roughly three million flights between January and May, about 73 .6 percent were on time, the government reported, down from 77.4 percent last year. That marks the lowest on-time percentage for the same period since the government began tracking the numbers in 1995.

Part of those delays were due to a sharp increase in the number of canceled flights. During that period, cancellations soared 79 percent, to 75,925, from the same period a year ago.

For the month of May, Hawaiian Airlines, a division of Hawaiian Holdings (Charts), did the best job of getting passengers to their destination on time, while US Airways (up $2.16 to $32.86, Charts, Fortune 500) fared the worst, arriving on time just 67.9 percent of the time.

AMR Corp.'s (up $1.30 to $28.36, Charts, Fortune 500) American Eagle Airlines and American Airlines ranked highest in terms of flight cancellations for the month, with both carriers canceling 2.2 percent of their domestic flights in May.

Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue Airways (up $0.11 to $11.88, Charts) posted the lowest cancellation rates.

Flights bound for Oakland, Calif. took the top spot for arriving on time during the first five months of 2007, with an 81.4 percent on-time arrival rating, while Newark had the worst on-time arrival performance with a 56.8 rating.

Portland ranked highest for flights departing on time during the same period, while Chicago's O'Hare airport fared the worst.

The most frequently delayed flight was US Airways 1569 from Boston to Philadelphia, which was delayed about 95.7 percent of the time.

The Department of Transportation also noted an sharp increase in the number of consumer complaints about airline service from last year during the month of May, as complaints jumped 49 percent to 929 complaints from 624 a year earlier. Top of page