America West has worst complaint rate

Southwest has best

Alaska Air trails in February on-times

April 05, 2000|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON -- America West Airlines Inc. had the highest passenger-complaint rate among major U.S. carriers in February and Alaska Air Group Inc. had the worst on-time performance, the U.S. government said yesterday.

America West had 9.74 complaints per 100,000 passengers, the Department of Transportation said in its monthly air travel consumer report.

"Our performance for the month of February was very adversely affected by the flight management computer outage in mid-February," said America West spokeswoman Patty Nowack.

The outage, which affected a computer system that prepares flight plans and weather information for pilots and crews, forced the airline to cancel dozens of flights Feb. 17 and 18, at the beginning of the busy President's Day weekend travel period.

Some 60.5 percent of Seattle-based Alaska Air's flights were on time in February. The carrier wasn't immediately available for comment.

Southwest had the lowest complaint rate for the 10 major U.S. carriers, less than one per 100,000 passengers. Trans World Airlines Inc. had the best on-time rate in February for the seventh straight month, with 82.4 percent of its flights operating without delays.

UAL Corp.'s United Airlines had the worst rate of mishandled baggage in February among the major airlines, with 6.72 complaints per 1,000 passengers. Alaska Air, with a 3.57 rate, had the best baggage-handling performance.

The 10 largest U.S. carriers' on-time average rose to 74.8 percent in February, from January's 73.7 percent. Still, it was lower than February 1999's 78.9 percent.

Including small airlines and foreign carriers flying in the United States, consumer complaints about service fell to 1,999 in February from 2,029 in January. The February total was almost twice the 1,015 complaints of the year-earlier month.

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