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Old August 8th, 2007, 10:11 AM   #1
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MISC | Airline Delays

Flight delays this year at worst level in at least 13 years
6 August 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. airline delays are at their highest level in at least 13 years, and analysts say fliers can expect more of the same for the rest of the summer.

The Department of Transportation on Monday said the industry's on-time performance in the first six months of the year was its worst since the agency began gathering comparable data in 1995. In June, nearly a third of domestic flights on major U.S. airlines were late.

Part of the explanation for the worsening delays is that demand for air travel is rising, both on major airlines and on smaller regional carriers. In addition, the government said weather-related delays in June were up 7 percent from a year ago.

Reports of mishandled baggage and complaints filed with the government also rose.

Airline consultant Robert Mann said U.S. carriers improved their financial health in recent years by relying more on small 40- to 80-seat jets that are easier to fill up, and can be more profitable because there are fewer empty seats. However, this strategy also leads to more crowded skies and runways in a system "that was already saturated," Mann said.

Regional carriers served 155.7 million passengers last year, up 38 percent from 2003 levels, according to the Washington-based Regional Airline Association. Those carriers, which include Mesa Air Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc.'s Comair subsidiary, operated at nearly 74 percent of capacity on average last year, up from 66 percent four years ago.

For June, U.S. airlines' on-time arrival rate was just above 68 percent, compared with roughly 73 percent a year earlier, according to Department of Transportation data. So far in 2007, nearly 25 percent of flights on the 20 largest carriers have arrived late, the agency said.

Travelers on SkyWest Inc.'s Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a regional carrier for Delta, had it worst in June, as about 56 percent of flights arrived on time, and five of that airline's flights were late 100 percent of the time. AMR Corp.'s American Airlines was barely better, with an on-time arrival rate of about 58 percent. US Airways Group Inc. had an on-time rate of about 62 percent.

The airline industry blames the increased delays on a lack of a modern satellite-based air traffic control system, combined with increasing demand.

"We're not surprised by the numbers," said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the airlines' trade group. "We have been saying for some time: It's going to get worse before it gets better."

The industry, along with the Federal Aviation Administration, has been pushing for a sweeping upgrade to the existing radar-based system, but has been caught up in an intense political battle over who will foot the bill -- big airlines or users of smaller aircraft like corporate jets. Lawmakers face a Sept. 30 deadline before the current funding system expires.

Reports of lost, damaged, delayed or stolen baggage rose to 7.9 per 1,000 passengers in June, up from 6.3 per 1,000 last year. Complaints about airline service filed with the government rose 43 percent from last June. Canceled trips rose to 2.7 percent of domestic flights in June, up from 1.7 percent last June.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 08:03 PM   #2
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is this only happening in America?
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Old August 9th, 2007, 03:48 PM   #3
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I have had only one flight out of a total of 23 overseas that was late. The one was due to a mechanical problem. It was 35 minutes in length and the pilot was able to gain back the time during the flight and actually arrived a few minutes early.

As for North America, I can't count the number of times my flights have been late or delayed. I guess North Americans accept this as the norm.
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Old August 11th, 2007, 06:46 AM   #4
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I think this is more common in the US since the skies are so much busier and the airlines are being reorganized after the 9/11 fallout.

The Best of Flights, The Worst of Flights
13 August 2007
Newsweek

Flying today is a Dickensian affair. Flight diaries read like production notes for "Oliver": endless lines, screaming children, basic necessities confiscated, uncomfortable physical inspections, cramped conditions and food of dubious quality.

For frequent fliers, it is clearly the worst of times. In the first quarter of 2007, only 71.4 percent of flights arrived on time, and 19,260 passengers were involuntarily bumped--up 13 percent from the year before. In July, 16,988 flights were canceled, up 54 percent from July 2006, according to FlightStats.com.

And yet for airline companies, these are the best of times. The industry was laid low by 9/11 and the 2001 recession, as giants like United, US Airways and Delta filed for Chapter 11. But the airlines' winter of despair has given way to a spring of hope. In a recent conference call, American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey crowed about "the largest quarterly profit [$317 million] since we launched the turnaround plan more than four years ago." Last week Northwest Airlines, tanned and rested after its sojourn in Club Bankruptcy, reported a healthy pretax quarterly profit of $273 million, despite rising fuel costs. The Amex Airline stock index is up 79 percent since March 2003.

What explains this dichotomy? After all, if workers at a restaurant chain routinely spat in customers' food, took three hours to deliver an appetizer, lost checked coats and, every so often, grabbed diners by the lapels and kicked them out the door, the chain would quickly go bust.

This Tale of Two Airline Industries can be explained by a few basic macroeconomic factors, and by one highly unexpected microeconomic development--airline managers are doing a much better job running their unwieldy empires.

Customers cut airlines slack in part because they can blame other forces for their misery. The Federal Aviation Administration's creaky, vintage system causes many delays. The Transportation Security Administration oversees the Soviet-like security lines. Weather-related problems can be attributed to a higher power.

The overwhelming majority of Americans lack an efficient alternative to the unfriendly skies. Even if a six-hour flight from New York to Los Angeles turns into an 11-hour Hieronymus Bosch-like ordeal, it's still light-years faster than a cross-country train or car ride. For all the hype surrounding corporate jets and the advent of air-taxi services, they constitute only a tiny sliver of the market.

Meanwhile, five-plus years of economic growth has boosted demand. Between April 2003 and April 2007, the number of domestic passengers rose 21 percent--while the number of flights rose only 4 percent.

Therein lies the secret to the airlines' success. Given the high fixed costs--planes, fuel and labor--an unsold seat represents a damaging loss of revenue. As recently as the mid-1990s, the industry's load factor--the percentage of seats occupied--stood at 66 percent: in essence, the commercial aviation industry routinely threw out about one third of its product. But thanks to rising demand, improved use of information technology and savvier marketing, airlines have dramatically boosted their load factors. The industrywide figure rose from 72.3 percent in 2000 to 78.8 percent last year, according to The Airline Monitor. United Airlines in June filled 89.1 percent of its seats.

Alas, fewer empty seats translates into longer security lines, more overbooked flights (and hence more bumped passengers) and more baggage on every flight. (The frequency of mishandled baggage rose nearly 20 percent from May 2006 to May 2007, according to the Department of Transportation.) It also means less comfort once the plane is aloft. The chances of being stuck in a middle seat, sandwiched between frequent visitors to the Golden Corral all-you-can-eat buffet, in a row opposite the bathroom, have vastly increased. (In my case, they seem to be about 84 percent.)

Ironically, these Dickensian conditions are providing yet another opportunity for airlines to pad their chronically thin margins. For in recent years, they have developed low-ticket, high-margin options that alleviate some of the pain associated with flying. US Airways now charges a modest $2-per-bag fee for curbside check-in at some airports. For an extra $15, Northwest offers aisle, exit-row or window seats. United's Economy Plus program lets fliers buy seats in a special coach section that offers five extra inches of legroom. The average cost: $25.

The balance of supply and demand doesn't show much sign of shifting. So when you head for the airport, bring a copy of "A Tale of Two Cities." There's nothing like a 371-page classic to make a four-hour delay pass quickly.
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Old August 12th, 2007, 07:01 PM   #5
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Politics & Economics: Delays Hurt Airlines' Capitol-Hill Connections
Push to Boost Fees On Corporate Jets Flags in Congress

By Christopher Conkey
8 August 2007
The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- Canceled flights, lengthy delays and heightened security concerns have turned air travel into a maddening experience for many fliers. Now, the same problems are making life difficult for commercial airlines on Capitol Hill.

Some legislators, responding to an increasing volume of complaints from constituents, are calling for a "passengers' bill of rights" that could change the way carriers manage severe delays. Others want to prevent regulators from redesigning flight paths, a move desired by airlines to cut delays at congested Northeastern airports. And for the first time in nearly 30 years, the Department of Transportation is considering new rules that would force airlines to pay more when they bump passengers from flights.

"The problem with airport delays is only getting worse," said Rep. Mike Thompson (D., Calif.), who sponsored the passengers' bill of rights in the House. "Fortunately, Congress is starting to pay attention."

These and other head winds are threatening to interfere with one of the industry's biggest political battles of recent years: getting corporate jets to shoulder more of the costs of running and upgrading the nation's air-traffic-control system.

Airlines generally have the backing of the White House and the Federal Aviation Administration, but Congress is proving a tougher sell. The issue will come to a head next month, when lawmakers return and the current law funding the FAA expires.

This week, the Transportation Department reported that delays were among the highest they have been since record keeping began in 1995: Only 68.1% of airline flights were on time in June, down from 72.8% a year earlier. Complaints about airline service rose nearly 43% that month, compared with 2006, and the rate of mishandled luggage soared. More aircraft are straining an outdated radar system, and more passengers are crowding into planes.

"People are angry. They feel like they have no control," said Kate Hanni, a real-estate broker who launched Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights last year after being stuck for hours on a Texas runway.

Ms. Hanni's association hopes to park a mock plane in front of the Capitol Building next month and invite lawmakers to spend an hour sitting in it. Among other measures, Ms. Hanni is pushing to allow passengers to get off a plane after three hours on the tarmac.

Thus far, the Air Transport Association, the airline industry's main trade group in Washington, has been able to bat away some of these proposals. Arguing that a single standard would make matters worse for travelers, airlines have developed their own contingency plans, detailing the kind of nourishment, temperature control and bathroom access they will provide during delays. These moves have helped to forestall more severe congressional action.

Meanwhile, the FAA's changes to route designs are inching forward, the agency says. The Department of Transportation won't decide until late this year, at the earliest, whether to increase compensation for bumped passengers.

The industry's main lobby group, however, knows that pressure will increase if airport woes continue. "Anything related to delays gives Congress a reason to want to become more interested," ATA President James May said last week.

Airlines are hoping to turn the gloomy state of the industry in their favor by arguing that things will get even worse if Congress fails to steer $20 billion to $25 billion toward modernizing air-traffic control in the next 20 years. The question is whether taxes and fees will be overhauled so that commercial airlines pay a lesser share and corporate jets pick up the slack.

The air-traffic control system is now funded by user fees and ticket taxes paid by airlines and their passengers, plus taxes on jet fuel that most aircraft pay. Other revenue comes from the general fund.

Currently, commercial carriers and their passengers provide over 90% of the taxes that fund the system, yet they consume closer to 74% of the costs of running it, the FAA estimates. General aviation, which includes corporate jets and other private aircraft that don't necessarily use controlled airspace, accounts for 16% of total costs by the FAA's count, but provides only 3% of the taxes.

While the number of commercial airliners in the air is growing, private jets are growing faster. In 10 years, the FAA predicts traffic at the nation's busiest airports will be 30% to 40% higher than it is today. The number of hours flown by general aviation pilots is expected to jump 59% by 2020.

Airlines arguing for a change in how the system is funded have unleashed an advertising campaign steeped in class warfare. In one animated Internet video funded by the ATA, a corporate jet cuts in front of several airliners queued on a runway. "Coming through," it says, "I've got a foursome here with an early tee time!" A star of the ads is Edna, a blonde who says she loves "big wigs," but "not subsidizing them."

In hearings on Capitol Hill, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey noted that commercial carriers pay $3,600 in fees and taxes for a flight from New York to Los Angeles, but a corporate jet traveling the same route contributes only $300.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a group representing private fliers, says commercial airliners consume much of air-traffic controllers' attention by jamming planes into overcrowded airports.

The leading Senate bill to fund a new air-traffic-control system would narrow the funding gap, an approach supported by airlines. But the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's bill so far offers little change in funding formulas, except for a slight increase in general aviation-fuel taxes.

Rep. James Oberstar (D., Minn.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure panel, says he is happy for private planes to "pay a little bit more" but adds that "I do not think that airlines should pay less." Mr. Oberstar recently had a flight from Duluth to Minneapolis canceled because of mechanical problems.
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Old August 14th, 2007, 06:14 AM   #6
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O'Hare again worst for on-time departures in 1st half of year
6 August 2007

CHICAGO (AP) - O'Hare International Airport again ranked worst among major U.S. airports for on-time departures during the first half of the year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Less than 65 percent of flights left O'Hare on time between January 1 and June 30, placing it last among 32 major U.S. airports, according to federal statistics released Monday.

O'Hare also was worst during the same period last year, but its percentage of on-time flights declined from 70.4 percent to 64.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Midway International Airport saw improvement.

In the first half of 2006, the South Side airport ranked second-to-last behind O'Hare for on-time departures. It jumped six places this year after nearly 73 percent of flights left on time, an improvement of just more than 1 percent.

Storms and air traffic volume are primarily to blame for O'Hare's ranking, said Karen E. Pride, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation, which manages both airports.

O'Hare sees between 96 and 100 arrivals an hour, Pride said, making it difficult for the airport to rebound from storms. Midway averages 32 to 36 arrivals an hour, she said.

O'Hare is in the midst of a $15 billion expansion project, which the FAA has said will reduce delays by 68 percent.
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Old August 23rd, 2007, 05:04 AM   #7
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Airlines solicit passenger support in fight for funding new air-traffic control system
21 August 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - Major airlines are asking passengers for help convincing Congress that private aircraft owners should pay more to modernize an outdated air traffic control system.

U.S. carriers are drumming up customer support through e-mails, airline magazine commentaries and in-flight videos, blaming a surge in corporate jet and small plane traffic for delays that are at record levels.

Delta Air Lines Inc. sent an e-mail to its frequent fliers this month, asking them to write their congressional representatives and request corporate jet owners ante up for a new air-traffic control system.

The airline plans to start showing a short animated video on most flights Sept. 1, blaming air congestion on increased flying by corporate jets and small planes. The video also suggests operators and owners of those aircraft aren't paying their fair share for a new air-traffic control system.

"I hate to say it but they're liars," says Phil Boyer, head of a trade group that represents general aviation.

The 413,000 members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, or AOPA, disputeng airline claims that general aviation planes clutter the skies.

The group, which represents two-thirds of U.S. nonmilitary pilots, says bad weather and carrier flight overbooking are the main causes for delays.

Boyer says the commercial airlines are spreading propaganda and looking for tax breaks.

The airline industry argues that it pays 95 percent of taxes that fund air-traffic control systems, but accounts for 75 percent of operating costs. The industry favors a Federal Aviation Administration proposal and Senate bill that would shift more of the financial burden to owners and operators of small planes and corporate jets.

General aviation reps, like Boyer, say that while they're willing to pay more, existing proposals are unreasonable and would harm businesses, especially in smaller communities. They support a House bill that raises some fuel taxes.

Congress has until Sept. 30 to reauthorize the FAA and possibly raise taxes and fees to pay for upgrades to the radar-based traffic control system and other aviation programs.

A satellite-based traffic control system, which the FAA says could handle up to three times current air traffic levels, could cost between $15 billion to $22 billion and take nearly 20 years to build, according to preliminary estimates.

Later this month, the FAA plans to award the first piece of this multi-phase project, a roughly $2 billion contract, to either Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co. or ITT Corp.

Both sides have engaged in fierce, multimillion-dollar congressional lobbying the past year and expect to intensify efforts when lawmakers return from summer recess.

The Air Transport Association of America, or ATA, the airlines' main industry group, has spent more than $2.6 million in the first six months of 2007 to lobby the government on numerous aviation-related issues, including the FAA reauthorization.

The AOPA has shelled out more than $3.3 million in the same time period, according to federal disclosure forms.

If the groups continue at current levels, they'll easily best what they spent in 2006: $3.1 million for the ATA and $5.9 million for the AOPA.

Meanwhile, Delta said its Aug. 1 e-mail to frequent fliers generated 19,000 form e-mails to their congressional representatives in support of the airline's objectives.

"We think it's important to educate and engage them," Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said. Other carriers agree, saying the effort complements the industry's federal lobbying.

Representatives from U.S. Airways Groups Inc. and AMR Corp.'s American Airlines said they haven't sent e-mails to customers or shown inflight videos, but they have published commentaries in their in-flight magazines about the issue.

The ATA produces the videos shown on Delta as part of a national campaign, which has including airing them on CNN's Airport Network at Washington, D.C. airports.

Not to be outdone, the general aviation industry has published magazine commentaries and developed television commercials that appear on CNN's Airport Network.

Boyer said the airlines want to create a grassroots campaign by engaging customers on the issue, noting that some commercial pilots have even mentioned it over public announcement systems during flights.

However, the efforts may backfire among frustrated airline customers, especially AOPA members.

One member tore up his frequent-flier membership card and sent the pieces to Delta after hearing of the campaign, vowing never to fly the airline again, Boyer added.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 05:02 PM   #8
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FAA Tests System Created to Fight Delays
26 August 2007

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Federal officials showcased an experimental air traffic control system that would let pilots see other nearby planes and help prevent gridlock in the skies.

The Federal Aviation Administration hopes the satellite-based navigation system will replace the current land-based system in the coming decades.

On a flight out of a Philadelphia airstrip on Friday, the FAA demonstrated parts of the system to a group of reporters. During the U-turn flight between Philadelphia and suburban Washington, D.C., the plane used current navigational systems, but officials showed how the new technology worked.

A small, brightly colored screen provided a detailed picture of all the planes nearby, which showed up as green triangles. The system uses GPS signals to give pilots information.

The agency hopes the so-called NextGen system can eventually help reduce flight delays by allowing aircraft to fly closer together in the crowded skies and enabling pilots to weave their own courses.

The FAA is asking Congress to approve $4.6 billion over the next five years for developing the system, now being tested on flights in Alaska. Development could cost $15 billion to $20 billion.

Manny Weiss, the FAA's eastern regional administrator, said the country needs to get away from World War II-era navigational systems, which, along with the nation's highways and bridges, are in dire need of repairs and upgrades.

"The entire infrastructure in this country has reached the end of its useful life," Weiss said.

Some in Congress have questioned whether it is wise to spend billions of dollars on the new system when so many other parts of the air traffic control systems are aging.

But FAA officials on Friday's flight said it is one of the most effective ways to reduce flight delays that reached historic levels in 2006 -- when only 75 percent of flights arrived on time at the nation's 35 busiest airports.

Last year, passengers at the three most delayed airports in the nation -- Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport -- experienced on-time arrivals of about 65 percent.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 03:35 AM   #9
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Whatever the hassles of air travel in the US, just remember that only 40% of space shuttles launch on time.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science...e-delays_N.htm
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Old August 27th, 2007, 05:45 AM   #10
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HAHA!
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Old August 28th, 2007, 12:39 AM   #11
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Last time I was delayed badly was about a month ago, 12 hours or so but the airline got out of paying compensation because it was due to an "act of terrorism".

Obveosly the airline cant help that but they way they treated up was AWFUL!
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Old August 28th, 2007, 04:50 AM   #12
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I think every flight I've had to Chicago O'Hare has been delayed. The last time I was at O'Hare I had to sleep in the terminal since I missed my connecting flight due to my flight being delayed. It was cold, noisy and seats are un-*******-comfortable to sleep on.
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 06:24 AM   #13
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AMR considers more ground time to cut delays-CEO

WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - American Airlines may add more ground time between flights to reduce delays that have caused passenger complaints, Gerard Arpey, chief executive of parent company AMR Corp , said on Thursday.

Arpey acknowledged that more time on the ground would increase costs at the world's largest airline, but said changes were necessary given the poor on-time airline performances that have fueled concerns about customer service across the industry.

"As we have struggled to regain profitability and get our company back where it is today, we have taken a lot of ground time of our aircraft on the ground," he said in an interview aired on NBC's "Today" show. "And one of the things we're looking at as we look back over the summer is: Should we be adding some ground time back?"

Arpey said more ground time would help passengers make connecting flights and give crews additional flexibility in handling baggage.

Asked if additional ground time also adds costs, Arpey replied: "Yes, it does. But we understand that we've got to address some of the concerns of our customers, and so we're going to be working hard to do that."

U.S. government data show that major U.S. airlines are on track for their worst-ever annual on-time performance record, with nearly one-third of all flights delayed in June.

Arpey blamed three factors for American Airlines delays: bad summer weather at its Dallas-Fort Worth hub, what he called an out-dated government air traffic control system, and "some of the things we've done as we have struggled to regain profitability."

AMR shares were down 15 cents at $24.01 in morning New York Stock Exchange trade.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 05:02 AM   #14
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US airline delays top 1 million so far in 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - U.S. airline delays for 2007 surpassed the 1 million mark in July, the same month major carriers scheduled a record number of flights - 647,600, the government reported on Tuesday.

The on-time arrival rate of 69.8 percent for July was one of the worst monthly performances since the U.S. Transportation Department started keeping records in 1995, and kept the 20 biggest airlines on track for their worst-ever year for delays, cancellations and congestion.

More than 13,400 flights were canceled and 2,100 flights diverted in July, mainly due to bad weather.

Among major carriers, Southwest Airlines had the highest on-time arrival rate at 75.2 percent. United Airlines, a unit of UAL Corp. and Northwest Airlines reported a 70.1 percent on-time rate.

JetBlue Airways Corp. and Delta Air Lines , both of which have big operations at delay-plagued John F. Kennedy airport in New York, reported on-time arrival rates of 66.8 percent and 65.3 percent respectively. American Airlines was last among the big carriers at 63.4 percent.

The 1,717 consumer complaints filed in July with federal transportation authorities was more than double the number reported in the same month last year, an indicator that customer service remains a problem for many airlines.

Although the number is relatively low compared to the tens of millions of passengers who fly each month, aviation experts say most people never file a formal complaint with their carrier or the government.

Kevin Mitchell, president of the Business Travel Coalition, which represents corporate travel managers, believes things will only get worse as U.S. airlines get closer to carrying 1 billion passengers a year by the middle of next decade.

"We'll look back on 2006, 2007 and 2008 as the good old days," Mitchell said.

In the first seven months of 2007, airlines operated 4.34 million flights for an on-time arrival rate of 72.2 percent.

The most frequently delayed flight in July was Delta 1667 from New York's JFK airport to Orlando, which was late 96.7 percent of the time. Comair, which flies for Delta, had the highest cancellation rate of all carriers at 5.4 percent.

More than 106,000 flights were canceled this year through July, about 2.4 percent of the total.

Bad weather, limitations of the air traffic system, and airline problems like aircraft mechanical trouble, crew shortages, and schedule changes account for most delays.

Summer is the peak travel season, and delays usually increase because of thunderstorms in the Midwest and East.

While no change in delay figures was expected for August, the airline industry may see some better numbers in the short-term with the normal dip in travel during autumn.

"We'll see some modest improvement here and there," said David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the industry's trade group.

But the airlines believe the situation overall will not change. They stress the growing volume of traffic coupled with an aging air traffic control system will mean delays in congested areas for the foreseeable future.

Airline critics, however, say airlines are overscheduling at peak times to facilitate demand, putting pressure on the air traffic system and blaming the Federal Aviation Administration when the air traffic system gets overloaded.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 08:08 AM   #15
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JetBlue, Delta Would Likely Get Boost From Airspace Plan
7 September 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones) -- JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines and other airlines that fill New York City's crowded airspace are likely to save time and fuel under a new master traffic plan by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA's plan, issued late Wednesday, would try to cut down on delays by rerouting landing and take-off patterns that overlap among the Northeast's major airports, including Philadelphia International Airport and New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport. These overlaps can spawn system-wide traffic jams if some of the flights are delayed.

Based just outside John F. Kennedy Airport, and the airport's biggest carrier, JetBlue (JBLU) says delays cost it $50 a minute in extra fuel, payroll and vouchers to inconvenienced customers.

"The vast majority of savings we expect from the redesign of the N.Y. airspace is driven by the efficiency of operations," said JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin on Thursday.

In the first seven months of this year, more than 37% of JetBlue's arrivals at JFK were late, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) would also benefit from lower fuel and crew costs, says spokesman Anthony Black. The Atlanta carrier is the third-largest airline at JFK, where 44% of its flights arrived late this year.

JFK and the 20 other airports in the New York and Philadelphia areas make up the busiest airspace in the world. They regularly rank as the nation's biggest bottleneck to air travel.

"What we had was a system pieced together over the years based on the needs of where most of the aircraft operated," said Steve Kelley, manager of airspace redesign at the FAA, in an interview. "What the system does is remove the pieces and has a more overall approach."

By stacking planes on some routes, expanding the airspace where planes can fly more closely together, and streamlining routes, the FAA says it is doubling airspace to manage flight paths.

That expanded capacity should allow it to keep up with the New York area's growth of daily flights, which it foresees increasing to 8,000 by 2011 from 6,500 today.

And the FAA is targeting 20% fewer delays by 2011 compared to what it would have without the changes, reducing airlines operating costs by about $248 million annually.

But the plan, in the works for nearly a decade, may still get derailed by congressional or legal action.

Even though the FAA says it's vetted the reconfigured flight paths at 120 public meetings, and promises to reduce noise exposure to more than half a million people, residents of some towns under the proposed flight paths continue to protest the plan.

If it goes ahead as written, shorter flight times would translate into lower overhead for the carriers providing the most flights out of these airports.

Credit Suisse analyst Daniel McKenzie says changes at JFK should shave 10 to 15 minutes off flights departing for the Northeast and reduce waiting times in what he termed the "mega conga-line" of flights coming into the Northeast.

"Naturally, this would be a significant benefit for [ JetBlue]," and those savings aren't figured into management's cost guidance, he wrote in a note to investors Thursday.

Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL) and US Airways (LCC) also stand to gain, said McKenzie, since changes in airspace extend to flight patterns in Philadelphia and Newark.

The FAA will be implementing its reworked airspace plan as carriers put more flights in the air.

The number of JetBlue flights departing JFK have increased between 15% and 30% a year for the last three years, says the carrier.

Delta Air Lines, meanwhile, has added more regional flights to service its expanding international network. It anticipates 174 daily departures from JFK this year, representing a 20% compounded growth rate over the past two years, it says.

"With more runway and airspace freed up, the natural concern is that airlines will quickly squander benefits by adding more flights resulting once again in more congestion," Credit Suisse's McKenzie said.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 05:02 AM   #16
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They really need to expand the airports. Chicago's airports had 1,270,794 take-off and landings and 95,117,299 passangers. That's a lot of people floating over the city at any given time! 3,481 aircraft taking off or landing every single day. Kinda amazing they basically never crash.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 04:35 AM   #17
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Airlines group say no need for deadlines to remove passengers from delayed planes
26 September 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - Commercial airlines oppose a government investigator's recommendation that the industry should set mandatory time limits for removing passengers from delayed aircraft.

The Transportation Department's inspector general recommends all airlines define extended delays, set a time limit for deplaning passengers and publicize those policies. But the head of the Air Transport Association on Wednesday argued that imposing such deadlines would do more harm than good after a summer of record-setting delays.

"Imposing an arbitrary time frame to deplane passengers will have numerous unintended consequences that are likely to increase cancellations and cause even greater delays for passengers," ATA President and Chief Executive James C. May said in testimony for a House subcommittee on aviation hearing exploring the recent run of record airline delays.

Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III's report examined the on-board delays that plagued JetBlue Airways Corp., AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and others last winter in which hundreds of passengers were stuck on jetliners for up to 10 1/2 hours.

Carriers' existing time limits for deplaning passengers range from 1.5 to five hours, but Scovel did not suggest a specific limit for airlines to adopt.

The report, released Tuesday, also found five carriers -- Delta Air Lines, Midwest Airlines, U.S. Airways, ATA Airlines and Aloha Airlines -- have no time limits outlined in their customer service plans or internal policies.

"Some of our members have identified specific time frames in their customer commitments, while others have established internal policies and procedures to ensure that delayed flights are monitored and timely decisions are made to hold or cancel a flight," May said.

Lawmakers led by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., peppered acting Federal Aviation Administrator Bobby Sturgell with questions about what the FAA will do when the airlines submit their summer flight plans to the agency in March "and have scheduled more flights than can possibly take off" at peak times?

"We're certainly interested in congestion pricing," Sturgell said, referring to higher fees airlines pay in some cities, including Chicago, to operate flights during peak times.

New York's LaGuardia International Airport used a congestion pricing model in the 1960s that worked well, according to FAA officials, and subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello, D-Ill., said legislation dealing with the issue would be considered.

ATA spokesman David Castelveter was less enthusiastic, saying no single solution will reduce delays.

Increased demand, coupled with smaller planes making more flights and the FAA's current system of taxes and fees encouraging that model, has pushed the system to its breaking point when bad weather or runway construction also are factors. Without changes, delays will increase by more than 60 percent over current levels by 2014.

Congress has until the end of the month to reauthorize the FAA and possibly raise taxes and fees to pay for upgrades to the air traffic control system and other aviation programs. Commercial airlines are battling corporate jets and small plane operators over what share of the cost they each should shoulder.

The ATA and the White House say a House-passed FAA funding bill does not fairly link fees to system use.

A Senate subcommittee has a hearing on delays and air traffic modernization scheduled for Thursday with Scovel, Sturgell, and executives from American, Delta and Continental Airlines scheduled to testify.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 09:10 AM   #18
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Every flight that I have had into O'Hare has been late. Mostly due to weather. This past summer because of rain and flooding, January of 2004 because of snow, etc. It's mostly weather related, other that that the airport is very efficient. Security, customs, immigration, baggage claim, etc.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 04:41 AM   #19
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US may fine airlines for chronically delayed flights, citing deceptive business practices
23 October 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - Airlines that operate chronically delayed flights could face stiff fines in the coming weeks as the government concludes a six-month investigation into potentially deceptive business practices.

The Transportation Department in May began investigating flights that are at least 15 minutes late more than 70 percent of the time, and so far has identified 26 that meet those criteria, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

If any of those 26 flights also were delayed in the most recent quarter being reviewed, the responsible airlines will face "significant financial penalties," agency spokesman Brian Turmail said. Results of the investigation are expected within weeks.

The commercial airlines trade group criticized the government's possible penalties.

"We're disappointed that they're taking this course of action given the effort by industry to significantly reduce delays," said David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association.

"No one has greater incentive to move its flights on-time than the airlines," Castelveter said, because they cost the industry $6 billion per year and it means "we fail our customers." But the answer is not eliminating flights from the chronically delayed list, which are there based on customer demand, he added.

The Federal Aviation Administration handles roughly 85,000 flights per day, a number predicted to reach more than 111,000 daily flights by 2020.

But delays this summer reached record levels. The Transportation Department earlier this month said more than 25 percent of domestic flights arrived late between January and August -- easily the industry's worst performance since comparable data began being collected in 1995.

In August alone, 23 flights were late at least 90 percent of the time and more than 100 flights were late at least 80 percent of the time. Almost half of Atlantic Southeast Airlines' flights were delayed, and two arrived late every time they took off.

Kristen Loughman, a spokeswoman for the Delta Connection carrier owned by SkyWest Inc., said the company was not aware of any fines being considered by the government. Any Atlantic Southeast flight on the Transportation Department's monthly report of delays becomes its top priority to fix, she added.

Other airlines that operated flights that were late at least 90 percent of the time in August were: ExpressJet Holdings Inc., which flies regional service for Continental Airlines Inc.; SkyWest Inc.; AirTran Holdings Inc.; Delta Air Lines Inc. and its subsidiary Comair Inc.

Also Tuesday, federal aviation regulators opened a two-day summit aimed at fixing "epidemic" delays at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The latest government proposal for reducing congestion at JFK, which had the worst on-time departure record of any major U.S. airport through August, is to reduce the hourly flight limit by 20 percent.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters repeated the government's desire for airlines to voluntarily change their summer 2008 flight schedules in order to alleviate record delays at JFK and other airports, but also reiterated that schedule reduction mandates remain an option.

Peters said she has "high hopes for market-based incentives," including raising landing fees for airlines during peak periods, to help reduce record delays at JFK and elsewhere.

But airlines say that so-called "congestion pricing" approach would simply result in higher fares and pledged to challenge mandates for it, or mandated schedule cuts, in court or legislatively.

Other recommendations for reducing airline delays are due by Dec. 10 from an aviation rules committee made up of airline executives, government officials and aviation groups. The scheduling summit is being carried out in parallel to that process and FAA officials expect a series of one-on-one meetings with airlines to continue through early December.

Peters also will meet with the airlines and airport associations early next month for a briefing on their plans to handle the Thanksgiving holiday travel rush, Turmail said, but an exact date has yet to be determined.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 10:46 AM   #20
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Mess at JFK bad for Delta
Airline industry vows to fight federal proposal to limit flights at airport where Atlanta-based carrier handles 30 percent of business.

24 October 2007
The Atlanta Journal - Constitution

Washington --- The nation's major airlines threatened Tuesday to go to court or Congress to fight a federal proposal to cut flights by up to 20 percent at New York's delay-plagued John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The Air Transport Association drew its line in the sand as the Federal Aviation Administration began two days of talks with the carriers on how to avoid a recurrence of the summer situation at JFK, when more than a third of all takeoffs and landings were late.

It appears that the federal regulators "intend to impose cuts," said James C. May, president of the Air Transport Association, which represents the major carriers. "We are unalterably, adamantly opposed to it."

If the FAA simply declares a cap of 80 or 81 flights per hour at JFK, May said the airline industry has "legal as well as legislative options" to consider.

"We hope we don't have to pursue those," he said.

The cutbacks would have a particularly heavy effect on Delta Air Lines, which has 30 percent of the flights at JFK, and JetBlue, with 29 percent of the flights. American Airlines is third at JFK with 15 percent of the flights.

At the FAA meeting, federal officials said it was more likely that flight reductions would be achieved by charging more for slots at peak periods rather than through a federal edict.

"I have been very candid about our strong preference for using market mechanisms like congestion pricing to preserve passenger choice while reducing delays," said Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.

But she said if that carrot doesn't work, the government will use a stick.

"While it is clear we have high hopes for market-based incentives, we may very well need scheduling reductions to help solve congestion in the near term," Peters warned at the opening of the two-day session.

May said the airlines will fight the Bush administration's "market-based incentives" as vigorously as it does the imposed schedule reductions. "We are flatly opposed to congestion pricing," May said at an afternoon meeting with reporters.

JFK had the worst on-time departure record of any major U.S. airport through the summer season, and the FAA has proposed reducing the number of flights per hour from an average of about 100 to 80 or 81, depending on the time of day.

"President Bush has made it clear that the conditions travelers experienced this summer are unacceptable and must be fixed," said Peters. "When nearly a third of scheduled flights are canceled or delayed, when passengers are stranded for hours on the runway, it is easy to understand why consumer frustration is reaching the boiling point."

"JFK delays have reached epidemic levels, and unless all of the parties step up, far worse is in store," said Robert A. Sturgell, the acting FAA administrator.

The federal officials accused the airlines of knowingly overscheduling during prime periods.

"Publishing schedules that offer 61 departing flights between 8 and 9 a.m. --- when the airport can handle only 44 departures --- is not fair to fliers," said Peters.

The airlines countered that better airspace management and updated technology could fit in more flights on time.

May wrote a letter to Peters on Tuesday saying "solutions are available if the government will focus on increasing the efficiency of operations rather than limiting operations and passenger choices."

Upgrading facilities and installing better technology could end the congestion in the long run, but the best short-term solution is a reduction in flights, the FAA suggested.

In his letter, May said cutting back on flights at JFK --- "a leading international gateway" --- would be both "anti-marketplace and anti-consumer."

Schedule reductions would force "airline passengers to trade delayed flights for no flights or very expensive flights. That's a bad deal," agreed David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, a passengers group.

"Under the guise of reducing airline flight delays, the Bush administration is going to sacrifice airline passengers' needs at the altar of congestion relief."

Stempler urged airline passengers to "band together and try to reduce the congestion problem ourselves."

"If you can fly during nonrush hours, do it. If you can use less-congested New York-area airports like Islip or Stewart, do it. If you can fly during the weekends instead of weekdays, do it," he said in a prepared statement.
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