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Do Airlines Pad Their Schedules?

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Document pages: 30 pages

Abstract: Since 1987, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has required all large domestic airlines to report on the on-time performance of their flights. Using the data collected by the DOT, we analyze how schedule times, actual flight times and on-time performance have changed in the industry between 1990 and 2016. We find that schedule times have increased in most years, with the largest increases occurring after 2008. In 2016, schedules were about 8 minutes longer than they were in 1990, for flights by the same airline on the same route in the same month of the year. We find that actual flight times and total travel times have also increased over this period but by less than the increase in schedule times and with the gap growing over time. This has resulted in reduced arrival delays despite the fact that flights are taking longer to complete. We discuss the implications of these findings for quality provision and information disclosure within the airline industry.

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