Airport officials dispute study

A study of on-time air travel from a Washington, D.C., public policy organization ranked Augusta as one of the worst in the nation.

But Augusta airport officials dispute the findings in the study, citing incomplete data and ranking the airport on arrivals, over which the destination airport has no control.

The Brookings Institution ranked Augusta as among the 10 worst metro areas in the nation for on-time airline arrivals – only 74 percent of flights arrive on time. Among other cities in the Southeast, Atlanta, Columbia, and Melbourne, Fla., rated worse.

Diane Johnston, marketing director for Augusta Regional Airport, said Augusta is not responsible for a jet leaving late from Atlanta or Charlotte.

“Atlanta gets backed up because they’ve got traffic coming in from all over the world. … If Atlanta starts getting behind, you can guarantee that we’re going to be behind in our Atlanta flights,” she said.

When rating on-time performance based on departures, where the airport has more control, Augusta has an 83.8 percent on-time performance, considering the average of the 12 months leading up to June 2009, which was the range of the Brookings Institution study.

“When we send them back out, it is always better than the arrivals because it is under our control,” she said.

Ms. Johnston said Brookings used data from only one of the airlines that land in Augusta -- Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which is a regional carrier for Delta -- in determining the results: .

“The federal government gets reports from the 20 largest airlines in the country,” she said. US Airways uses airline companies that are too small to report to operate its regional flights. So US Airways data for Augusta is not reported to the federal government and therefore not available to Brookings, Ms. Johnston explained.

The FAA doesn’t consider a flight late until it is 15 minutes late in landing or departing.

The Brookings report is a first-of-its-kind analysis of air travel among metro areas – as opposed to individual airports – that charts where and how often people are flying and whether flights take off and land on time.

The best on-time performance was Salt Lake City, at 86 percent, according to the study. The worst was New York City at 66.3 percent on-time arrivals.

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