Mar 21, 2024 - Travel

Charlotte airport ranks low for on-time departures

Flight at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

A plane at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is tied for 69th out of 104 other U.S. airports for annual on-time departures in 2023, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from the latest Transportation Department data.

Why it matters: Charlotte mirrors the national trend, which is a big upswing compared to December 2022, when Southwest Airlines' epic meltdown dragged down the industrywide average to about 70% for the month.

By the numbers: For all of 2023, 79.3% of flights departing Charlotte were on time, which is close to its pre-pandemic average of 79.5%.

  • By the end of the year, on-time departures improved, with more than 82% of flights out of CLT taking off on time in December.

Zoom out: Charlotte is one of the busiest airports in the world. It experienced record passenger traffic last year with 53.4 million passengers, per airport officials.

  • American Airlines makes up 90% of Charlotte's flights, per an American Airlines spokesperson. Charlotte is American's second-largest hub behind Dallas.

Between the lines: Several factors, including weather and airline issues, can affect each airport's on-time performance.

  • American improved its on-time departure performance by 25% during winter holiday travel in Charlotte.

What we're watching: Airport officials expect upcoming spring break travel to be their busiest yet. Passenger traffic is forecast to be up by 15% compared to last year, with March 28-29 and April 1 the busiest days, per the airport.

Share of flights departing on time from CLT
Data: Bureau of Transportation Statistics; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios
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