McCarran improves in government ranking of flight delays

/ Las Vegas Sun

A Southwest jet takes off as Mexican airline Volaris makes its inaugural arrival at McCarran International Airport Wednesday, March 30, 2011.

McCarran International Airport is the 12th worst in the country for flight delays, but that’s actually good news — a year ago, the airport that serves Las Vegas was No. 4.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics said 15.8 percent of McCarran’s flights were late in 2011. The bureau considers a flight late if it arrives or leaves more than 15 minutes after its scheduled time.

McCarran, the seventh busiest airport in the country by number of daily flights, is at the mercy of foul weather across the country that skews schedules and produces late arrivals which, in turn, produces late departures.

Most airports had improved on-time performance last year thanks to mild winter weather.

The three worst airports for flight delays in 2011, according to the federal bureau, were Newark Liberty International, where 23.8 percent of all flights are delayed; fog-plagued San Francisco International, 21.8 percent; and Chicago Midway, 20.1 percent.

An average 23 flights a day arrive at McCarran from San Francisco, and Chicago Midway, the busiest airport in Southwest Airlines’ system, delivers an average nine a day to Las Vegas.

Rounding out the top 10 airports with the worst flight delays were Miami International, 19.3 percent; George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston), 19.3 percent; Chicago O’Hare International, 18.8 percent; Denver International, 18.2; Dulles International (Washington, D.C.), 18 percent; Baltimore-Washington International, 17.6 percent; Dallas-Fort Worth, 16.7 percent.

Mild winter weather in December was attributed as one of the reasons for the best on-time performance in 17 years.

Experts say McCarran’s improvement on the list can be attributed to generally good weather and a high percentage of operations by Southwest, whose Las Vegas station has on-time performance above 90 percent most months.

Tags: Business