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Top US Airlines Are a Bit More Timely

THE 10 largest airlines in the United States posted an 83.0 percent on-time arrival record in April, according to a US Department of Transportation report on flight delays, mishandled baggage, and consumer complaints released this week. The airlines' on-time performance is up slightly from March's 82.6 percent mark and the 82.9 percent rate recorded in April 1993. (Delays caused by mechanical problems are not counted.)

The carriers had a mishandled baggage rate of 4.80 reports per 1,000 passengers in April, an improvement over 5.39 in March and 5.17 in April 1993.

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The department received 582 complaints about airline service in April, down from March's total of 624 but more than the 544 complaints recorded in April 1993. The airlines ``bumped'' 1.57 passengers per 10,000 travelers in the first three months of 1994, up from 1.15 for the previous quarter and 1.24 for the corresponding period in 1993.

Consumers may file complaints by writing to the Office of Consumer Affairs, US Department of Transportation, I-25, 400 7th St. S.W., Room 10405, Washington, D.C. 20590. Prices cut on summer Europe flights

SEVERAL airlines cut ticket prices to Europe June 6 in a bid to capture last-minute bookings from travelers for the peak summer season. But other carriers did not rush to match the discounts initiated by Trans World Airlines, saying summer bookings already appear strong.

The latest discounts call for up to $200 off round-trip tickets purchased by July 13. The lower rates apply to travel between July 3 and August 31 with a maximum stay of 30 days. Northwest Airlines and United Airlines said they matched fares in competing markets. But Delta Air Lines was one of the carriers that did not immediately go along.

``We are reviewing their fares. With double-digit growth in European bookings for the summer, we're kind of bewildered as to why they're doing a summer sale to Europe,'' said Todd Clay, spokesman for Delta.

American Airlines and Continental Airlines also said they were studying the TWA action, but had not matched the discounts.

Under the latest discounts, TWA said round-trip fares between St. Louis and London are $578 compared with previous levels of $778. Fares between New York and Paris were cut to $568 from $768. Industry officials previously said advance bookings are strong on domestic and trans-Atlantic routes due to improving economic prospects. Summer travel is expected to rise 3 percent to 5 percent from 1993, according to industry projections.

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