February, marked by the Valentine's Day service meltdown at JetBlue Airways Corp., was the worst month for U.S. airline on-time performance in more than six years and one of the worst ever, government figures showed on Monday.
The data released by the Transportation Department's statistics bureau raised fresh questions about industry customer service problems ahead of the summer travel season, historically the busiest for airlines.
The agency reported earlier this year that consumer complaints were up in 2006 as U.S. airlines mishandled more than 4 million bags and had other operational problems despite improved finances.
The most recent operational performance figures showed that the biggest airlines recorded one of their lowest rankings for monthly on-time performance in February since the agency started comparable records in the mid-1990s, with just 67.2 percent of flights on time.
Prior to February, the worst month for late flights was December 2000, the figures showed.
Although airports in the Northeast were hit hard by a mid-month ice storm, especially New York's John F. Kennedy airport where JetBlue is based, Chicago's O'Hare was the worst for late arrivals in February.