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Paul Hudson 410-940-8934
For Release June 22, 2007

Aviation Consumer Groups Decry False Statistics on Flight Delays: Call for Congressional Investigation and Passage of Passenger Rights Legislation

Washington, DC- An unusual public meeting was held on June 20th called by the DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) attended by over 150 airline representatives on how to fix inaccurate and incomplete data reporting of flight delays and strandings. At the meeting, aviation consumer groups charged the agency was misleading the flying public with flight delay statistics that omit the most serious delays caused by flight cancellations and diversions, called for the agency to correct misleading testimony submitted to Congress by high DOT officials at April hearings on strandings, and suggested ways to fix reporting deficiencies.

Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP), noted that “DOT delay statistics are inaccurate to the point of being deceptive. For example, the agency now admits that there were over 16,000 flight diversions last year but it collected no data on the delays this caused passengers. The DOT also admits that it does not count cancellations, which are now one in 20 flights, as causing any delay. It also has now admitted it fails to record time on tarmac confinements of up to 12 hours, including the mass stranding by Jet Blue at JFK Airport in February that received national headlines.”

“If the agency that is charged with preventing deceptive practices by airlines does not correct its own inaccurate testimony and public statements, it is itself guilty of misleading the public and Congress. Current DOT reports on airline flight delays are like a doctor telling a patient all about his hang nails, but omitting to mention he also has cancer.”

Last week the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights (CAPBOR) issued a study that detailed the inaccurate statistics and provided estimates based on media reports and verified eye witness accounts of strandings, showing that serious delays are grossly understated in DOT statistics based on airline self reporting.

On April 11th consumer groups testified at a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee regarding the inaccurate DOT statistics, their testimonies and those of the DOT and the airlines are available on the Committee web site.

Detailed comments by ACAP were filed today with DOT under Docket No. RITA 2007 28522.