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Japan Air, Southwest earn on-time kudos

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Japan Airlines International was the number one carrier in the world for on-time performance last year, with Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines leading the way in North America, according to a report issued Wednesday.

Japan Airlines flights were on-time 90.95% of the time worldwide, far exceeding the industry average of 78.31%, according to FlightStats, a service provided by information company Conducive Technology Corp.

FlightStats spokesman David White said he wasn't surprised to see Japan Airlines to take the top slot in FlightStats' first annual on-time performance contest since it started tracking this type of information in 2004. He said the performance of the Tokyo-based airline mirrors the efficiency of Japan's public transportation system.

"Overall, the Japanese transport systems runs like Swiss trains; they regularly perform in the top five," he said.

Southwest Airlines (LUV, Fortune 500) was the top performer among major carriers in North America, with an on-time performance rate of 82.47%, said FlightStats.

White said the Dallas-based carrier benefits, in part, by the fact that it doesn't funnel cross-country flights through major hubs such as John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, where they're more liable to get held up by congestion.

He added that Air Canada, the worst performer in the category of 13 carriers, was still quite good, with an all-time performance rate of 74.6%.

Hawaiian Airlines took first place among regional carriers in North America, with an on-time performance record of 91.76%. This was also no surprise, considering that the Honolulu-based airline regularly outperforms its peers in monthly performance tallies from FlightStats.

"It's partly due to the region that they serve," said White. "Weather-wise they don't get snow and fog, which a lot of other airlines have to deal with. They don't have traffic delays like you see at JFK and O'Hare."

He added, "That doesn't mean that they don't have their act together."

In Europe, the Dutch airline KLM Cityhopper was the leader, with an on-time arrival rate of 90.7%, according to FlightStats.

"The Scandinavian and northern European airlines tend to perform better than their southern competition," said White. "And that's not because of the weather; they fly in some of the worst weather. I'd have to chalk it up to operational efficiency and management."

National efficiency was a prevailing theme in getting there on time, he said, noting that the worst performers in the worldwide category of major international carriers were Air China, Pakistan International Airlines, Jet Airways in India, Turkish Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas.

"They're all serving, with the exception of Air China, the developing world and the infrastructure is not up to the level of Europe and North America," said White.

FlightStats considers flights to be on-time when they arrive at the gate within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. To top of page

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