Sunday, November 26, 2000

Worst delays: flights to Newark

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — Flying to Newark, N.J., from Cincinnati? Good luck making it on time.

        Fliers trying to get from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to Newark International Airport outside New York City have the greatest chance of arriving late, an analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation airline delay data shows.

        Newark is consistently one of the poorest performing airports in the country because of constant overbooking, analysts say. In addition, the federal government has limited the number of flights the airport can handle because of a lack of runway space and air traffic control capacity.

        And problems there mean problems here.

        The worst flight from Cincinnati to Newark between January 1998 and September 2000 was Delta Air Lines' Flight 766. It operated daily between June 1 and Sept. 1 of this year, with departure scheduled for 7:15 p.m. and arrival at 9:13 p.m.

        According to the data, Flight 766 was more than 15 minutes late 68 percent of the time. Its average delay was 49.48 minutes. Flights were canceled 8 percent of the time.

        The flight now is known as Flight 1036. It's also supposed to leave at 7:15 p.m. but arrive in Newark at 9:24 p.m. — 11 minutes later than its predecessor. About 33 percent of these flights are late.

        “That flight is going into a very busy metropolitan airport late in the day, and we want our schedule to more clearly reflect the air and ground time to expect,” Delta spokeswoman Cindi Kurczewski says of the schedule changes.

        Not only has more time been built into the flight's schedule, but Delta is flying the route with a bigger, faster Boeing 757. While the 757 can seat as many as 183 passengers, the MD-88 it replaced had seats only for 142.

        Kurt Fricker, 29, of Atlanta says he's flown the Cincinnati-to-Newark evening flight four times in the past year.

        “It's just like everything else when you fly a lot - you get good flights and bad flights,” says Mr. Fricker, a consultant who has made 120 flights this year alone. “I've just learned to live with delays and not get upset. I'm eventually going to get there, so what good does it do me?”

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