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Airport Delays Add Up to Thousands of Years in 2018 Alone

A new study cites the worst airports for flight delays in millennia vs. hours

by Business Traveler

August 6, 2019

A new study by FinanceBuzz examined the top 25 airports in the U.S. where passengers are most delayed. Not surprisingly, Chicago O’Hare International Airport topped the list. The report, which analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, including total passengers departing from each airport, the percentage of flights delayed, and the average length of the delay interpreted its findings in measures of years, verses hours, and found that in 2018 alone, delays at Chicago O’Hare International Airport amounted to 1,133 years lost.

In a deeper drill down, there were 33,152,904 passengers who departed from ORD last year.  Some 25% of flights from the airport were delayed or cancelled so 25% of those 33 million passengers — or 8,288,226 million people — were affected by delays at just this one airport last year. The average delay at ORD was 71.85 minutes, making the collective time passengers were delayed 595,509,038 minutes or 1,133 years. Atlanta came next on the list with a collective delay time of 991 years.

Further findings revealed these delays were not about weather, which might be assumed. However, weather delays accounted for just 4 percent of delays. Infrastructure and operations were more often noted as the dominating cause of flight delays.

Carrier delays, where “the cause of the cancellation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control (e.g. maintenance or crew problems, aircraft cleaning, baggage loading, fueling, etc.),” also account for a high percentage of delays across airports.

1. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) = 1,133 years

2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) = 991 years

3. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)= 872 years

4.Denver International Airport (DEN) = 792 years

5. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) = 654 years

6. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) = 651 years

7. Orlando International Airport (MCO)= 617 years

8. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) = 601 years

9. Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) = 551 years

10. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) = 542 years

In a separate note, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao recently announced a $478 million infusion in airport infrastructure grants to 232 airports in 43 states. This is the fourth allotment of the total $3.18 billion in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for airports across the United States.

Selected projects include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, construction of firefighting facilities, and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons, and terminals. The construction and equipment supported by this funding increase the airports’ safety, emergency response capabilities, and capacity, and could support further economic growth and development within each airport’s region.