Flight Delays Declining But Still Big Factor at Five Airports

zenobia_joy, flickr

One in four flights arrived late last year at five U.S. airports, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. But the good news is the percentage of flights delayed across the country actually went down six percent between 2007 and 2009.

Topping the list of airports with the worst number of delays were Newark Liberty Airport, New York LaGuardia, Atlanta Hartsfield International, New York John F. Kennedy International and San Francisco International.

The GAO's National Airspace System report looked at flight delays at 34 major airports.

The five airports with the worst delays, combined with Chicago' O'Hare International and Philadelphia International, were the source of nearly 80% of delays at all major airports, according to the report.

A flight is recorded by the Federal Aviation Administration as being delayed if it departed or arrived at the gate 15 minutes past its scheduled gate departure or arrival time.

While the GAO report says flight delays have declined since 2007, it also says that's largely because fewer flights have been scheduled, and notes that "some airports still experience and contribute substantial delays to the system."

The report says the FAA's NextGen air traffic control system and other air traffic management improvements could help reduce delays overall in the next two or three years. But says how these actions will change the situation at individual airports remains "unclear."
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