Philadelphia International Airport's on-time performance ranked in the bottom five of the nation's 32 largest airports in October, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported yesterday.

The Philadelphia airport also ranked near the bottom for the first 10 months of 2007, the agency found.

Phyllis Van Istendal, a spokeswoman for the airport, said she was not prepared to respond to the statistics, which the federal government releases monthly.

Nationwide, October's average on-time performance rose to 78 percent from 73 percent a year earlier. A flight is considered on time if it is within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.

Philadelphia International had a 69.35 percent on-time arrival record in October, a drop from 71.35 percent a year ago. The airport's on-time arrivals ranked 29th among the nation's 32 largest airports, ahead of only the three major New York-area airports.

For the first 10 months of the year, Philadelphia's on-time performance was similar, ranking 29th this year - with 65.97 percent of arrivals on time, compared with 26th place and 71.23 percent on-time flights over the same period in 2006.

Philadelphia International's ranking for departures also sank, to 29th place in October from 25th last year - even though on-time performance improved slightly, to 74.90 percent this year from 74.71 percent.

Among airlines in October, US Airways Group Inc., which carries nearly two-thirds of the traffic at Philadelphia International, was on time for 75.6 percent of its arrivals at the 32 large airports. That placed it 15th among the 20 carriers in the survey.

In a larger sampling at about 80 airports, US Airways had a 75.7 percent on-time-arrival record, which the carrier said yesterday was its second-best month this year after September's 80.1 percent.

In a letter to employees yesterday, US Airways chief operating officer Robert Isom called this Thanksgiving "our best post-merger Thanksgiving," and wrote about "seeing the results of a focused and goal-oriented operation." US Airways merged with America West in September 2005.

US Airways also had 6.42 luggage complaints per 1,000 bags in October, a ninth-place showing out of 10 airlines. Still, the numbers were better than last October's 7.89 complaints per 1,000 bags.

Contact staff writer Karl Stark at 215-854-5363 or kstark@phillynews.com.