Here's some good news for Kennedy Airport passengers: On-time performance of flights improved in 2014 compared with the year before, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The airport's on-time departures jumped eight places, from 20th place in 2013 in the ranking of the nation's 30 biggest airports to 12th place in 2014. Departures were on time 78.6 percent of the time, 1.3 percent better than in 2013, according to figures released Wednesday by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Punctual arrivals inched up from 25th place in 2013 to 23rd place last year at Kennedy, hovering around 75 percent in both years.

The Global Gateway Alliance, a passenger advocacy group for New York City travelers, said Kennedy's slight improvements are encouraging at a time when delays in the New York City airspace are among the nation's worst. Chairman Joe Sitt said the use of new, more direct and efficient flight routes and satellite-based airport surface detection equipment at Kennedy, part of the Federal Aviation Administration's airspace upgrade known as NextGen, have shortened delays.

NextGen, a major technological overhaul of U.S. air traffic control and navigation procedures, is gradually being implemented nationwide. "The progress at JFK is a good first step, but our airspace is still the most congested in the country," Sitt said in a statement.

"Only by bringing NextGen air traffic control to the entire region and modernizing and expanding facilities on the ground will we begin to significantly reduce delays and transform our airports into world class hubs."

LaGuardia didn't fare as well, and was the only regional airport to drop in the rankings. In on-time departures, the northern Queens airport fell from 17th to 18th place in 2014, with punctual takeoffs 76.2 percent of the time. Though LaGuardia improved its rank in 2014 for on-time arrivals from 28th to 26th, the percent of those flights that were on time fell about 1 percentage point, to 71.3 percent.

Nationwide, the winner for overall on-time performance in 2013 and 2014 was Salt Lake City International Airport, with 86.15 percent of flights on time in 2014.

The FAA considers a flight to be on time if it takes off or lands within 15 minutes of its scheduled time.