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More than 1-in-4 US airlines arrive late in July

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than one in every four flights in the U.S. arrived late in July, with JetBlue, American Eagle and Virgin America passengers among those likeliest to have arrived late.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday that 73.1 percent of flights arrived on time. That's down from 76 percent in July 2012, though a slight improvement from 71.9 percent in June. The figures tracked 16 airlines including all the biggest ones.

Hawaiian Airlines held its customary spot on top of the rankings with an on-time rate of 94.6 percent, followed by Alaska Airlines at 84.5 percent. The worst on-time rate was reported by JetBlue Airways, followed by American Eagle, ExpressJet, AirTran Airways and Virgin America. All scored below 70 percent.

Thirteen domestic flights were stuck on the ground for more than three hours, meaning that the airlines could face fines. Twelve occurred at New York's LaGuardia Airport on July 22, when a Southwest Airlines jet landed nose-wheel first and crashed, injuring more than a dozen passengers and causing officials to shut down both runways. Three international flights stayed on the tarmac at least four hours, which could subject those carriers — all foreign-based — to fines.

About 1.7 percent of domestic flights were canceled in July, up from 1.4 percent in July 2012.

The airlines lost, damaged or delayed about 3.7 bags for every 1,000 passengers, up from 3.5 a year earlier.

Despite the increase in flight delays and lost bags, customers were less likely to file a complaint with the government than a year ago. The department said that it received 1,607 complaints about airline service, nearly 35 percent fewer than a year earlier — but up about one-third from those filed in June.

Alaska and Southwest had the lowest complaint rates, while United Airlines had the highest, followed by Virgin America, American Eagle and American.