WASHINGTON - Major airlines arrived on time more and passengers complained less about service last year, thanks to traffic-control changes, good weather and fewer people flying.
The 10 biggest U.S. airlines posted their best on-time record since 1995, when the government started keeping comparable records.
Flights on those airlines arrived within 15 minutes of schedule 82.1 percent of the time last year, up from 77.4 percent in 2001, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported Monday.
During 2002, the Transportation Department received 43 percent fewer complaints about airline service than in 2001, according to the report.
"We haven't had the kind of weather problems in recent years that we had in 2000," said David Smallen, the transportation statistics bureau spokesman. Weather causes about two-thirds of all delays.
One in four flights arrived or departed at least 15 minutes later than scheduled in 2000, when planes were full and storms were frequent.
The Federal Aviation Administration has improved air-traffic procedures and some airlines changed their schedules to avoid delays, Mr. Smallen said.
David Stempler, the president of the Air Travelers Association, said the airlines' financial problems helped their performance because they're more concerned about survival.
"Airline employees are acting as if their career depends on the on-time departure of every flight, and it probably does," Mr. Stempler said.
He pointed out that United Airlines had the best on-time performance of all the major airlines in December, when the carrier sought bankruptcy protection.
Here are the performance records for Augusta's two commercial airlines during 2002:
Atlantic Southeast Airlines
US Airways Express
Source: Augusta Regional Airport
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