S.F. International Airport makes misery list

If misery really does love company, San Francisco International Airport passengers were not lonely in 2007.

SFO was recently named the third “most miserable” airport in the nation in 2007 based on federal statistics on flight delays and plane occupancy among the 47 busiest airports in the United States.

The third-place ranking for SFO was due in large part to the airport’s poor on-time performance and load factor, which is the percentage of seats filled with passengers, according to a report released Monday by U.S. News & World Report.

A separate federal report recently said flights to SFO arrived late more than one-quarter of the time in 2007, ranking the airport seventh out of 32 major airports for delays.

Approximately 70,000 passengers travel daily through SFO, ranking the airport as the 16th-busiest in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The delays at SFO, analysts say, are in some part due to low-cost carriers, which all began service at SFO last year.

Low-cost carriers need to cram as many passengers as possible onto each plane to make profits, said Bob Harrell, aviation analyst for New York-based Harrell Associates.

But the entire methodology U.S. News & World Report used to classify SFO as third “most miserable” is counterintuitive, SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said. When planes have a higher percentage of seats filled, airlines make money and are able to offer more services, he said.

To lessen flight tardiness, McCarron said, the airport is requesting airlines to fly larger planes less frequently and trying to distribute flights across peak and nonpeak times.

mrosenberg@examiner.com  

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