O'Hare Delays Reduced (Except Yesterday)

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If you went to, from or through O'Hare in the past month, chances are your flight was on time or a lot closer to it -- excepting yesterday when storms pushed delays into the several hours long category. FAA officials told reporters Tuesday that between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 (when new rules capped flights at 87 an hour) there were almost 300 fewer daily flight delays than in the same period last year and the average length of delays was cut from 42 minutes to 16 minutes during peak times. But FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro also said that unusually benign weather during the period probably had the biggest impact on the on-time improvements and air traffic controllers said the first big winter storm will be the acid test. "When bad weather kicks in, we cannot handle capacity and that leads to exponential delays," said Ray Gibbons, local president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Molinaro said the flight caps will help the airport catch up from weather delays and new equipment will enable controllers to better predict delays. But Gibbons said that when weather chops the arrival rate to less than 80 per hour and there are still 87 flights that want to get in, delays are inevitable.