Alaska Airlines flights in July were late less often compared to previous months, but the carrier still ranks among the nation's worst performers, according to a federal consumer report.
Alaska ranked 17th among the nation's 20 largest airlines in a monthly report that compiles on-time percentages. Alaska's planes were on time 63.7 percent.
The company improved from June and May, when it was ranked last with on-time percentages at 49.8 percent and 58.9 percent, respectively.
Alaska spokeswoman Amanda Tobin cited busy schedules and airports and work force transitions as reasons for the delays. The company pointed to those reasons as well for late arrivals in May and June.
"However, Alaska Airlines has made significant progress in on-time performance in recent months," Tobin said.
Tobin said her company's August statistics show flights arriving on time 69 percent. Alaska's goal is 82 percent and the airline exceeded that number by 1 percent on Wednesday for a daily average, she said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will not publish August statistics until next month.
A company task force looking into ways to stick to a schedule developed several ideas that are working now, Tobin said.
The airline reduced its summer schedule, enabling it to concentrate on timeliness. More customer service employees were hired to get passengers on planes at the right moment. And Alaska recommitted itself to getting the first flights of the day leaving on time so other flights are not delayed.
"We continue to look closely at the root causes of the delays," Tobin said.
In July, Hawaiian Airlines performed the best, with flights on time 96.4 percent of the time. The country's worst was AirTran Airways, 60 percent on time.
About half the flights arriving and departing from the Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan airports were late, according to the report.
Some 27 Alaska Airlines flight routes arrived late 15 minutes or more 70 percent of the time. That's an improvement from June, when 105 flights were regularly late.
Alaska also reported that 8.47 bags were mishandled per 1,000 passengers. June numbers were slightly lower at 7.32 bags.
Andrew Petty can be reached at email@example.com.
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