USAir Group Inc. might be losing money at a dizzying rate, but its on-time performance is gaining altitude, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which released its June Air Travel Consumer Report yesterday.
For the second quarter of this year, 86 percent of USAir's flights nationwide arrived on time -- meaning within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time -- according to the DOT. That ranked the company sixth among the 12 biggest airlines, even though USAir's less impressive first quarter tally of 83.5 percent of flights arriving on-time put it in first place for those three months.
The better on-time numbers arrived the same week the Arlington, Va.-based carrier reported that its July passenger miles declined 7.3 percent, compared with July 1990. On May 2, USAir ended operations in eight West Coast cities and reduced flights at two hubs.
But the company also reported yesterday that it will inaugurate a new service out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Rocky Mount-Wilson, N.C., beginning Sept. 4.
USAir's best performance in June came at Washington's Dulles International Airport, where 93.8 percent of its 282 flights arrived on time, according to the DOT. BWI customers received USAir's second-best service, with an 89.9 percent showing for the 3,376 flights that arrived in June.
The federal report also shows that for the most timely service at BWI, customers might try Continental, which delivered 91.9 percent of its 111 flights on time. Only 53.8 percent of Pan Am's flights arrived on time to the airport in June, giving it the lowest ranking at BWI.
The second-quarter performance was the fourth consecutive increase for USAir, the dominant carrier at BWI. And in the 12-month period that ended in June, USAir's 83.4 percent
on-time performance ranked it third among the 13 biggest airlines.
The carrier's four-year average is 77.8 percent of flights arriving on time, an 11th-place finish.
"I think we had a very respectable performance for the month," a USAir spokeswoman,Susan Young, said, especially considering that USAir flies more "short-haul" flights than any other major airline, which makes it more susceptible to scheduling delays. She said the company has been able to meet its own on-time percentage goals for nine consecutive months.
Ms. Young attributed the improvements to a companywide awareness program for employees and innovations such as an automated baggage tagging system.
That, in turn, led to fewer complaints over lost luggage, she said.
In June, 4.49 passengers out of every 1,000 reported baggage complaints to USAir, according to DOT, compared with 6.23 out of 1,000 customers in June 1990.