Flights by U.S. airlines hit 10-year low…

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Money, People, World

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. airlines in 2011 operated the fewest number of flights since the hijack attacks on New York and Washington depressed air travel and accelerated the industry’s worst-ever financial downturn, government figures on Tuesday showed.

The Transportation Department said major airlines, their chief low-cost competitors and the biggest regional carriers, recorded 6.08 million departures last year. Takeoffs were not that low since 2002, when they totaled 5.27 million.

Reduced operations and good summer weather, especially in the East, helped airlines post a 79 percent on-time rating in 2011, unchanged from the previous two years.

The overall number of flights by U.S. airlines have steadily declined since 2008 when the recession dampened travel demand. Most recently, stubbornly high fuel prices have prompted airlines to further cut capacity to reduce costs and maintain higher fares.

The industry operating figures were released as President Barack Obama signed into law $63 billion legislation authorizing guaranteed funding of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2015.

The FAA oversees U.S. air traffic operations at more than 400 airports.

The measure approved by Congress last week also includes funding for the next steps in transforming the air traffic network from a radar-based system to one relying on satellites.

Proponents say the change will allow for more flights, better routing and fewer delays.

(Reporting By John Crawley; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s