Feb 15, 2023 - News

Airlines had excellent on-time performance last fall

Data: Bureau of Transportation Statistics; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

If you flew out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in November, your flight was probably on time.

  • 80% of domestic flights from IAH departed on time in November 2022, per the latest Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.
  • That's compared to the national rate of 81%.

The big picture: At the national level, airlines performed admirably throughout the fall of 2022, with on-time departure rates at or above 80% between September and November.

  • That was up significantly from the summer, when staff shortages and foul weather combined to muck up the complex, interconnected web that is the air travel system.

Zoom out: Across the cities with Axios Local newsrooms, the Washington, D.C. area's Dulles International Airport had the best on-time performance in November 2022, at 88%.

  • Denver — where brutal storms tend to snarl wintertime operations — had the lowest, at 76%.

Yes, but: This dataset doesn't include December's meltdown at Southwest Airlines, which led to thousands of cancellations and delays at that carrier nationwide.

  • Expect those delays to show up in the next data release, where they'll almost assuredly drag down the systemwide numbers.

Be smart: Because airlines' systems and routes are so interconnected, problems at one airport or in one region tend to cascade across the country.

  • Foul weather in, say, Chicago can mean delays in Houston, because planes get stuck and can't make their next planned leg.

The bottom line: Generally speaking, on-time performance tends to dip in the summer (thanks to thunderstorms and the vacation rush) and winter (due to blizzards and holiday crowds) and improve in the spring and fall.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to remove a reference to the number of cities with Axios Local newsrooms.

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