Tardiest flights in US run from NY airports

Written by Bloomberg | Updated: Apr 1 2010, 04:28am hrs
After meetings in New York, Chris Nagy often went home on Continental Airlines Incs 7:30 pm flight to Omaha, Nebraska. It was so reliably late he could eat a leisurely dinner before going to New Jerseys Newark airport.

I knew it was never going to leave on time, and sure enough Id get there at 8 or 8:30 and they wouldnt even be close to boarding, said Nagy, 45, managing director of order routing sales and strategy for TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.

Thousands of travelers at New Yorks three major airports shared experiences like Nagys, whose Flight 2558 arrived late half the time in 2009 by an average 61 minutes. Of the countrys 50 tardiest flights, 41 started or ended at Newark or New Yorks LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, according to data.

The figures offer the first full-year glimpse at delays on individual routes in the biggest US aviation market and the ripple effect across the nation. The statistics agency ranked almost 3,400 flights based on how often they arrived late, which is defined as 15 minutes or more beyond schedule.

Its part of the cost of doing business in the chronically congested New York area, said Michael Derchin, a CRT Capital Group LLC analyst who previously worked for billionaire Julian Robertsons Tiger Management LLC. You just have to expect a certain amount of delays.

New York-area flights make up 12% of operations at the 35 largest airports while accounting for almost half the delays, according to the Air Transport Association. Industry-wide delays may have cost US carriers as much as $17 billion in 2009, including spending on wasted fuel and crew pay, the Washington-based trade group said.

Carriers affected by New York tie-ups include Delta Air Lines Inc, which has a hub at Kennedy; AMR Corp.s American Airlines, second-largest in the world behind Delta and operator of bases at Kennedy and LaGuardia; Continental, which has a Newark hub; and New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp.

Airlines keep their chronically delayed flights to preserve use it or lose it landing rights at airports such as LaGuardia where the US government controls access, said Jeff Straebler, a fixed-income strategist at RBS Securities Inc. The solution, Continental and other airlines said, is to upgrade the US air-traffic control system.

The federal data offer clues on how airlines manage congestion: All but eight of the most-delayed flights involved regional carriers such as Deltas Comair unit and Continental partner ExpressJet Holdings Inc.

Theyre very proactive in choosing this is the flight thats going to take the hit because they want to minimize cost and passenger irritation from missed connections or late arrivals, said Straebler, who like CRTs Derchin is based in Stamford, Connecticut.