By David Koenig, AP Airlines Writer
DALLAS (AP) — U.S. airlines are doing better a better job of staying on schedule, according to the government.
The Transportation Department said Tuesday that the airlines averaged an 80% on-time arrival rate in March, better than February this year and better than March 2009.
Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines had the best on-time ratings. JetBlue had the worst, followed by ExpressJet and American Airlines.
JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Croyle said the airline was hurt by its heavy concentration of flights in the crowded New York area and by runway work that reduced capacity at New York's JFK International Airport.
The Transportation Department said 25 flights in March were stuck on the tarmac for three hours or longer — and four were grounded at least four hours.
New rules that took effect in late April could subject airlines to big fines for holding passengers on a plane longer than three hours without giving them a chance to leave.
The biggest offender in March was SkyWest, with 10 delays of at least three hours. SkyWest operates regional flights for Delta and United. An American Airlines flight from San Diego to New York on March 13 was held on the tarmac for five hours.
The airlines reported that one in every 269 passengers had a bag lost, damaged, delayed or stolen in March. That was better than March 2009, when it happened to one in every 236 passengers.
Your chances increased, however, for getting kicked off a flight even though you held a confirmed reservation because the airline sold too many tickets. For the first three months of this year, the airlines bumped 23,380 passengers, or 1.73 for every 10,000 travelers. That rate is more than one-fourth higher than in the first quarter of 2009.