One in 3 flights arrives late at Charlotte airport

CHARLOTTE -- With record numbers of passengers on planes that are packed more tightly than ever, Charlotte's airport remains one of the nation's worst this year for late-arriving flights.

In addition, the airport's dominant carrier, US Airways, was the worst airline by far for on-time arrivals in the first six months of this year.

At Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, one of every three flights from Jan. 1 to June 30 landed late, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data released Monday. The on-time arrival rate ranked 27th of 32 major U.S. airports, down from 79 percent and 13th place in the first six months of 2006.

Meanwhile, passenger traffic increased 9.7 percent over the same period last year, airport officials said.

Despite being near the basement for on-time arrivals, Charlotte's plunge isn't unique. Almost every airport reported lower rates this year, the worst in the 13 years that transportation officials have tracked those numbers.

Not surprisingly, on-time arrival rates for airlines also are at a record low, with about one of every four flights landing later than scheduled.

Worst among 20 airlines was US Airways, which operates the most daily flights at Charlotte/ Douglas, the carrier's largest hub. From January to June, only 63 percent of US Airways flights arrived on time.

Some delays came in February and March, when bad weather held up flights and a switch to a new reservations system crashed self-service kiosks in Charlotte and other Eastern U.S. airports.

Yet the airline still trailed most other carriers in June, as its on-time arrival rate of 62 percent was the fourth-worst among airlines and below the average of 68 percent.

As for summer travel at Charlotte/Douglas, 62 percent of flights arrived on time in June, down from 70 percent in June 2006. That dip also isn't unique, as almost every major airport saw a decline from June 2006 to June 2007.

While June was one of the worst months ever for late-arriving flights nationwide, Charlotte/Douglas can claim one tiny victory. Although its June rate was worse than last year, the airport climbed one spot on the airport on-time arrival list, from 25th to 24th.