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Delta singled out as the most frequently delayed airlines

While most U.S. airlines improved their performance records, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines flights arrived late 80 percent of the time or more in February, according to a report by U.S. Department of Transportation.

Statistics released by the Department said that 19 U.S. carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 82.6 percent in February, an improvement over both February 2008's 68.6 percent and the 77 percent recorded in January of this year.

The chronically-delayed flights included Savannah-Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta and Atlanta-Newark flights on Delta, the report said, adding the Savannah-Atlanta flight was the most frequently delayed flight in the country in February, arriving late 94.1 percent of the time.

The report listed 20 chronically late flights nationwide. It is unusual for Delta flights to comprise such a big chunk of the list.

Delta has been cutting its flight schedule amid a recession-fueled decline in travel, but its passenger traffic continues to drop faster.

Earlier this week Delta reported its passenger traffic dropped 12.6 percent in March compared with a year earlier.

The declines meant that Delta's planes were not as full. In March, Delta flights averaged 80.5 percent full, down from 84.9 percent in March last year.

Delta's cargo traffic saw even larger drops, declining 36.7 percent in March compared with a year earlier.

Industry analysts noted that Delta's worst performances come when most of U.S. airlines improves their customer services in part to the recession.

Hawaiian Airlines had the highest on-time arrival rate in February, at 91.2 percent, while Southwest Airlines had the second-highest, at 88.3 percent, and Tennessee-based Pinnacle Airlines had the third-highest, at 86.8 percent.

As fewer people fly for both business and for leisure because of the poor economy, most of U.S. Airlines focus their efforts on the improvement of quality for customer services.

(Xinhua News Agency April 10, 2009)