Airline flights to Newark Liberty International Airport, including some that originate from Dayton’s and Cincinnati’s main airports, are among the most delayed flights in the nation, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration for 2012.
In November, for example, ExpressJet 4092 out of Dayton International Airport to Newark topped the list of the most delayed flights in the nation that month. The flight was late 16 of 24 flights with the delays averaging 75 minutes.
A flight from southwest Ohio to Newark should take no more than 90 minutes, but they often take longer. The delays commonly last as long as the flight should take, a review of the federal data by this newspaper showed.
The pattern has been consistent for years.
A 2010 study commissioned by the FAA found that flight delays cost the U.S. economy $32.9 billion, with about half the cost paid by airline passengers. The study, conducted by the University of California-Berkeley, said the dollar figure was based on lost passenger time, cancellations and missed connections, plus expenses such as food and accommodations.
ExpressJet Airlines, which services Newark, is the carrier that pops up most often on the FAA’s most-delayed list nationwide. ExpressJet flights from Dayton International, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, and Port Columbus International airports to Newark are repeatedly late, records show.
In the busy travel month of December, for example, ExpressJet flight 4352 from Cincinnati to Newark was late 15 of its 24 flights, or 62 percent of the time. The average number of minutes delayed: 102.
ExpressJet flight 4368 to Dayton from Newark was chronically late, too. It was late 11 of its 18 flights, an average late time of 77 minutes.
In May, ExpressJet 3844 from Columbus to Newark was late 13 of 24 flights with an average delay of 83 minutes per flight.
ExpressJet, based in College Park, Ga, is a regional carrier in partnerships with American, Delta and United airlines to operate flights under the brands American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, respectively.
Terry Slaybaugh, Dayton’s director of aviation, sees three major factors at play — a weather pattern that pushes afternoon storms on an eastward track and delays departures and arrivals; congestion on air routes to the East Coast, and the arrival in the evening hours of flights from Europe, which can crowd out the shorter domestic flights when it comes to available runways.
Slaybaugh said the FAA is performing a balancing act, trying to allow airlines to have plenty of capacity on flight routes and not be too heavy-handed on regulation.
“The FAA is trying to manage the system and at the same time not curtail free enterprise and be the heavy hand here,” Slaybaugh said.
ExpressJet spokeswoman Kate Modolo cited similar reasons for the chronic delays.
“Each ExpressJet flight on the chronically delayed list flew into or out of our Newark or Chicago hubs, which experience regular weather challenges and (air traffic control) constraints. Additionally, the New York City air space is the most congested in the nation.”
Modolo also cited issues with federal budget budget cuts from sequestration. The process has had a disproportionate impact on regional carriers, she said.
Newark, she added, falls into the category of one of the world’s most congested airports. “We work daily to improve operational reliability by focusing on the areas we control, and working with all our partners,” Modolo said.
Ron Marsico, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, also cited air congestion.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics on Thursday released data that showed Phoenix had the highest and Newark had the lowest on-time arrival performance of the 29 busiest airports from January to April, with Phoenix at 86 percent and Newark at 69 percent.
In April, two domestic flights sat on the tarmac for more than three hour. A Delta flight on April 19 was on the New York La Guardia tarmac for 183 minutes before returning to the gate and then resuming normal operation to Orlando. A United flight on April 8 was on the Colorado Springs tarmac for 182 minutes after a diversion on its Pittsburgh-Denver route.
Additionally, two ExpressJet flights were chronically delayed in February, March and April. In March and April, 10 ExpressJet flights, seven Mesa flights, and one Delta flight were more than 30 minutes late or canceled more than 50 percent of the time.
Airlines with the best on-time performance in January-April 2013
1. Hawaiian: 92.07
2. Alaska: 87.30
3. Virgin America: 87.24
4. Delta: 86.01
5. AirTran: 83.11
6. US Airways: 82.02
7. Southwest: 81.88
8. United: 80.10
9. Mesa: 79.83
10. SkyWest: 79.36
11. Pinnacle: 79.12
12. American: 78.08
13. JetBlue: 72.87
14. American Eagle: 72.73
15. ExpressJet: 70.90
16. Frontier: 70.64
All Airlines: 79.40
Source: U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics