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Air delays cost travelers more than airlines

October 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new report shows that flight delays are costing passengers a lot more money than they cost the airlines.The cost of buying tickets is already painful for many, but when travelers are inconvenienced by a flight delay or cancellation, it can really start adding up.

Flight delays cost the airline industry billions of dollars a year, and it turns out that passengers are picking up the bulk of the tab.

According to a study funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, the overall cost of flight delays is around $33 billion a year.

When researchers from the University of California Berkeley looked at data from 2007, they found that delays cost airlines $8.3 billion mostly for crew, fuel and maintenance. However, the cost to passengers amounts to $16.7 billion.

The study examined the time lost waiting for flights, cancellations, missed connections and related expenses such as hotel rooms. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 1.3 million domestic flights were delayed and 119,000 flights were canceled in 2007.

"On-time flights would be perfect in my world, anyway, as a business traveler and a personal traveler," said LAX traveler Donna Diggens."I have actually missed a funeral for my aunt because of a flight delay."

The study emphasizes delays due to mechanical problems or weather can't be avoided, but improvements can be made to reduce those delays by expanding the capacity of the nation's airports and air traffic system.

The FAA is in the midst of a program to modernize the air traffic control system, replacing World War II-era radar with satellite-based technology. The program is expected to cost government and industry about $40 billion.

The FAA has said the program is necessary to meet an anticipated greater demand for air travel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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