Reductions in Competition Increase Airline Flight Delays and Cancellations

Since 2005, the U.S. airline industry’s service quality—airlines’ on-time performance and cancellation rates—has varied greatly. The percentage of late domestic flights has fluctuated between 11 and 33 percent per month, while the rate of cancellations has varied from under 1 percent to over 5 percent per month. Understanding the sources of these variations is important because airline delays and cancellations have affected a large number of flights. There has also been considerable industry consolidation since 2005. Public concerns over a possible relationship between the quality of airline service and industry consolidation led to congressional hearings and requests to the accountability community to review these issues. Section 406 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 required the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to assess the effects of limited airline service options on the frequency of delays and cancellations. This report presents the results of the analyses of the relationship between competition, measured at the individual route level, and airline service quality, also measured at the individual route level. Specifically, it was determined whether (1) reductions in competition affected the percentage of late flights and the length of flight delays, (2) reductions in competition affected flight cancellation rates, and (3) the effects of reduced competition on airline service quality depended upon the initial level of competition. Audit work was conducted from October 2012 through March 2014, in accordance with generally accepted Government auditing standards. Data was collected on 2,530 domestic routes flown by 20 airlines from the fourth quarter of calendar year 2005 through the fourth quarter of calendar year 2012.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 29p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01526302
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: CR-2014-040
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: May 13 2014 12:42PM