Re-elect Dan Lipinski Congressman

Lipinski Tells Southwest to Pick Up the Pace

Chicago Sun-Times

January 14, 2011

By Tina Sfondeles

Pick up the pace.

That’s what U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) is telling Southwest Airlines to do.

“When nearly three out of ten flights are late taking off, there’s a problem that needs to be fixed,” Lipinski said in a letter dated Thursday to Southwest CEO Gary C. Kelly.

Lipinski’s missive comes just days after the U.S. Department of Transportation revealed that

Midway Airport had the worst on-time performance among the 29 largest U.S. airports last year through November.

Lipinski targeted the airline “given that Southwest accounts for more than 85 percent of the market share by passengers at Midway.”

In the letter, Lipinski requests information on the airline’s challenges to on-time performance and what measures it is taking to prevent late takeoffs. It also questions the impact of the airline’s merger with AirTran on future performance at Midway.

Southwest fired back Friday, admitting on-time performance had slipped in the Chicago market. “...We are not satisfied and are working diligently to return to industry-leading status,” Southwest said in a statement.

The company said it is focusing on solutions that still deal with the realities of inclement weather and increased load factors and called the problem a “complex issue with many contributing factors.”

According to Tuesday’s federal report, just over 72 percent of flights left Midway on time in Nov. 2010. And for the first 11 months of 2010, the airport ranked 29 of 29 with just 71.95 percent of flights departing on time.

For the same period in 2009, Midway had 78.16 percent of flights leaving on time and was ranked 25th.

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