Are flight times really increasing?

If you've had a sneaking suspicion that flight times have been increasing, you are on to something. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal looked at 50 domestic flights on nine airlines and found that scheduled flight times were 10% longer this March than they were in March of 1996. 
In examining actual flight data, Northeastern University economist Steven Morrison notes that between 1977 and October 2009, the amount of time an aircraft spends on the ground from when it leaves the gate to when it arrives at its destination gate has increased by an average of 9.9 minutes. Morrison also found that time in the air has increased 6.1 minutes.

The article speculates there could be many reasons for the increases, including the fact that problems in the air traffic control system have made flight times more unpredictable, planes are also flying 2% slower to save fuel costs, and many carriers have been switching to smaller regional jets, which don't fly as fast and can slow down planes behind them.

RPA is currently studying the reasons behind the NY metropolitan region's air traffic congestion and exploring solutions. Let us know how congestion affects you by taking our quick survey.
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