Feb 15, 2023 - News

Philadelphia airport above national average for on-time departures

Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick writes.

Share of flights departing on time from <b style='text-decoration: underline; text-underline-position: under; color: #15a0ff;'>PHL</b> and  <b style='text-decoration: underline; text-underline-position: under; color: #858585;'>all U.S. airports</b>
Credit: Data: BTS; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Airlines at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) beat the national average when it came to U.S. domestic flights departing on time in November 2022, per the latest Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.

Why it matters: We’re thinking departure rates may be useful to many of you already planning flights for the summer vacation season.

What’s happening: An impressive 85% of flights departed on-time from PHL in November, compared to 81% nationally.

  • Across the cities with Axios Local newsrooms, Washington Dulles International Airport had the best on-time performance in November 2022, at 88%.
  • Meanwhile, Denver — where brutal storms tend to snarl wintertime operations — had the lowest, at 76%.

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

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

While PHL didn’t have data on how many Southwest flights were canceled in December, they accounted for approximately 4% of the airport’s daily flights, PHL spokesperson Heather Redfern tells Axios.

Between the lines: While PHL’s on-time departure rates are admirable, you can’t say the same for its customer satisfaction.

What they’re saying: Redfern tells Axios that some factors that have helped the airline’s on-time departure rates include using the most efficient routes for taxiing planes and the mild winter.

  • Airport officials are currently updating its master plan, which could include proposed modifications to its airfield that may improve on-time departure rates further.

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

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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