Flight Cancellations Hold Steady Despite New Tarmac Delay Limit

Remember how airlines threatened to cancel a mess of flights if the Department of Transportation imposed fines for holding planes on the tarmac for more than three hours? Well, the DOT imposed the rule and it looks like airlines are coping just fine. The Wall Street Journal examined recently released data and found that the most probable explanation for the slight jump in cancellations is a combination of weather and shoddy maintenance.

The weather seems to have been worse for airlines in July. On-time performance for the U.S. industry dropped to 76.1% from 77.6% in July 2009, and there were fewer flights operating because of airline schedule cuts. (Less congestion generally translates into improved on-time arrivals.) The percentage of U.S. flights arriving 45 minutes or more past their scheduled arrival time also increased, to 9.8% of all flights tracked by FlightStats, compared to 9.1% last year.

And cancellations showed a similar small increase, to 1.4% of all flights from 1.2% last year. In terms of total numbers, there were 9,759 cancellations counted by FlightStats compared to 9,336 in July 2009.

It’s far from the armageddon that airlines predicted, something to remember next time a corporation argues that a pro-consumer regulation might end them.

Canceled Flights Up Slightly in July [The Middle Seat Terminal]