Airlines improve on-time performance; American ranks last

Major airlines did a slightly better job of operating flights on time last year, despite holiday storms and inspection woes that grounded hundreds of jets. But American Airlines ranked last, according to data released today by the Department of Transportation.

Overall, the nation’s airlines also lost fewer bags, bumped fewer travelers and logged fewer complaints from passengers in 2008 compared with 2007. About 76 percent of flights landed on time during 2008, up from 73 percent the previous year, the government reported.

The two airlines headquartered in North Texas were on opposite ends of the rankings. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines finished No. 1 among domestic carriers based in the continental U.S., with 80 percent of its flights arriving on time.

American, headquartered in Fort Worth, was at the bottom of the list, with less than 70 percent of flights landing on time.