Southwest Airlines has been on a mission to excel in on-time performance. But according to on-time arrival performance data for June released this morning by FlightView, an airline and airport data provider, Southwest, which has its largest hub at Chicago's Midway Airport, had little it could brag about in June.
In fact, Southwest fell from second place among major domestic carriers last month to third place in on-time arrival performance in June behind American Airlines, although by just a hair.
Southwest finished June with 71.8 percent of flights arriving on time, according to FlightView, down from 78.3 percent in May. AA, which has its second largest hub at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, finished June with 71.9 percent of flights arriving on time, down from 75.2 percent in May.
A flight that arrives within 14 minutes of its scheduled arrival time is considered on-time. Every major domestic carrier's on-time performance actually suffered in June compared with the May results.
But AA had the smallest drop, suggesting AA CEO Doug Parker, still relatively new to the role, may be on his own mission to make his airline, now the world's largest, an on-time arrival performance leader.
Still, Delta Air Lines, which has been at the top of the pack of major domestic airlines for months, remained solidly on top in June, although it fell to 78.8 percent of flights arriving on time, down from 84.7 percent in May.
But by far the worst on-time arrival performance among the four largest domestic carriers was notched by Chicago-based United Airlines.
Though UA has not been talking a lot about its on-time performance in recent months — preferring instead to focus on airport enhancements and onboard amenities and food upgrades — the carrier fell to a pretty poor 66.5 percent of flights arriving on time in June, compared to 75.0 percent in May.
Asked about on-time arrival results for June, a United spokesman said today: "The biggest driver was weather, with United seeing the highest rate of weather-related delays and cancellations since December, 2008. For the first half of June alone, thunderstorms hit at least one United hub 14 of the first 15 days of the month."
Southwest, on the other hand, expanded its summer flight schedule starting the second week of June by adding more flights early in the morning and later in the evening.
But a Southwest spokesman today downplayed the flight schedule expansion as a reason for the carrier's falling on-time arrival performance in June, and, like his counterpart at United, cited weather issues.
Noted the Southwest spokesman: "Many severe storms that impacted the central United States had an overall impact on our on-time performance last month."
(Lewis Lazare - Chicago Business Journal)