June 06, 2007

US Airways still ranks last, but improves

US Airways bobbled fewer bags in April and landed more planes on time than in the month before, but the Tempebased carrier still sank to the bottom of the rankings for overall consumer complaints.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which compiles and publishes airline and airport performance statistics, released the April results on Tuesday. With nearly 18,000 arrivals and just as many departures in April, 79 percent of the planes came and went on time at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

That compared with fewer than 60 percent on-time arrivals at New York’s three major airports.

The New York area airports’ dismal performance could help explain US Airways’ less-than stellar results.

Severe storms swept through the Northeast in April, causing numerous flight delays.

That followed the mid-March weather disaster that swamped the East Coast, especially US Airways’ Philadelphia hub, causing flight delays, cancellations and lots of luggage separated from owners.

A month earlier, the situation was almost as bad, but US Airways’ February woes were overshadowed by those of JetBlue, which snagged the most notoriety by leaving passengers stuck in parked planes for up to 10 hours.

US Airways landed fewer than 56 percent of its planes on time in March, improving in April to 63 percent for on-time arrivals.

“It’s still not acceptable,” said US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder. “But it’s reflecting improvement.”

May looks even better, Wunder said, The carrier landed 80 percent of its planes on time during the last week of May, which included the busy Memorial Day weekend traffic, she said.

“We’re encouraged by those numbers,” Wunder said.

As for mishandled baggage, in April US Airways scooted up to a tie for 14th place among the 20 airlines tracked.

The company lost or abused an average eight bags per 1,000 passengers in April, according to the government’s statistics, much better than March’s 11 bags per 1,000 passengers.

In April 2006, the Tempe-based airline earned a better six-per-1,000 record of lost or damaged luggage.

Rival Southwest Airlines mishandled six bags per 1,000 passengers in April compared with five per 1,000 a year earlier.

As for overall complaints, US Airways earned 245 of them in April.

By Donna Hogan, Tribune
Read more from this article's source at: East Valley Tribune

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