Tampa Int'l holds own in arrivals, departures
Wake up and good morning. So, based on on-time arrivals, which were the best and worst among 32 of the nation's bigger airports in the month of October? Flights at Salt Lake City International had the highest on-time arrival rate, with 92.5 percent. Newark Liberty was the worst, with only 68 percent arriving on time, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. ( A flight is counted as "on time" if it arrives within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.)
Tampa International Airport fell in the middle of the pack, ranked 20th with an on-time arrival rate of 85.89 percent. Interesting that in October of 2007 TIA ranked 15th (so our airport slipped since last year) yet had a lower on-time arrival rate of just 79.10 percent. Year to date on-time arrivals (that's January through October 2008), Tampa International ranked No. 15. Here's that ranking. And on year-to-date departures, TIA was No. 9, down from 2007 but still the best of the major Florida airports. Here's the departure ranking. (Image of Tampa International with proposed light rail system.)
Why such a shift? Fewer flights and lower demand. It's easier to be on time when there's less business. What was striking, however, is that in October 2007 Tampa International Airport outperformed by a hair Orlando's airport last year, No. 15 versus No. 16 and by 79.10 to 79.04 percent. Not so in October 2008. Tampa dropped to 20th while Orlando slipped only one notch to No. 17. Here's the October vs. October ranking of all 32 airports.
And on-time departures? That's another ranking by the feds. Tampa International fared better here, ranking 14th of 32 at 88.64 percent in October of this year. But the airport slipped from the No. 5 slot a year earlier though it was on-time only 84.64 percent of the time. (Orlando, by comparison, ranked No. 13 this October, beating TIA by a digit, but No. 9 a year earlier.) Here are the departure rankings.
Among other findings compiled by the federal transportation folks:
* Better on-time airlines: The 19 carriers filing information reported an on-time rate of 86 percent in October, higher than both October 2007's 78.2 percent and September 2008's 84.9 percent.
* Better baggage handling:The U.S. carriers reported a mishandled baggage rate of 3.55 reports per 1,000 passengers in October, an improvement over both October 2007's rate of 5.37 and September 2008's 3.86.
* Fewer complaints: The DOT received 627 complaints about airline service from consumers, down from 1,099 in October 2007.
* Best and worst airlines: Among the major carriers, Continental Airlines reported the lowest on-time rate at 81.4 percent. Northwest, with 90 percent of its flights arriving on time, had the highest rate.
* Worst flight: American Airlines flight 933 from New York JFK to Miami was late 81 percent of the time, making it the most consistently delayed flight in the USA.
* Better weather: About a third of late flights were attributed to bad weather, down from 39.8 percent a year ago.
Finally, kudos to our own metropolitan airport. For those who missed it, the annual Zagat Survey last month announced the results of its most recent airline/airport survey. The survey is based on the experiences of 9,950 frequent fliers and travel professionals who rated 85 major world airlines and 27 domestic U.S. airports. Tampa International won in overall quality. New York's La Guardia came in last.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist