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O’Hare ranks No. 1 in late departures: Delays rise despite traffic decrease

McClatchy Tribune News Service

A falloff in air traffic doesn’t appear to be easing delays at O’Hare International Airport.

Chicago’s chronically congested airport had the worst on-time departure performance of any major U.S. airport from January to May, a new report shows.

Just 63.2 percent of flights departed O’Hare as scheduled over that five-month period, according to a report from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics released Monday. That’s a decline from the same period of 2007, when 64.4 percent of O’Hare departures were late.

City of Chicago data show that the number of flights at O’Hare declined by 4.6 percent over that period, as the airport’s major tenants, United and American Airlines, began to cut flights to temper rising fuel costs.

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Both carriers plan double-digit service reductions at the airport this fall, anticipating that typical seasonal declines in air travel will be exacerbated by a stagnant economy.

Federal regulators plan to lift flight curbs at the airport as airlines reduce capacity and a new runway opens.

Delays continue to plague the U.S. air system despite similar cutbacks by airlines nationwide, federal data show.

U.S. carriers arrived on time at their destinations for 79 percent of all flights during May, according to the transportation bureau’s data. While that’s a slight improvement over May 2007 results, it is the second-worst performance recorded for that month in the 14 years that federal officials have tracked on-time performance.

American Airlines had the worst overall on-time arrival performance among major airlines, followed by United and Continental Airlines.

Southwest Airlines operated the flight most plagued by delays during the month: Flight 2709 from Houston to San Diego, which was late 100 percent of the time.

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