Friday, April 3, 2015

The March dogfight: Delta Air Lines and Southwest battle for on-time supremacy

It couldn't have been closer. The March 2015 on-time arrival numbers are in from FlightView, the Newton, Mass.-based data provider for airlines and airports.

And by the slimmest of margins Delta Air Lines, a perennial frontrunner in on-time performance, returned to its top spot and just edged out up-and-coming Southwest Airlines, which vowed more than a year ago to return to being an airline with a sterling on-time performance record.

Well, Southwest, which has its largest hub at Chicago's Midway Airport, is definitely getting there.

But it surely won't without a fight from Delta, which notched an 80.0 percent on-time arrival performance in March, up substantially from the 74.0 it scored in February.

Southwest scored a 79.9 percent on-time arrival performance in March, up from 77.4 percent in February. An on-time arrival is defined as one in which the plane gets to the gate within 14 minutes of its scheduled arrival time.

Meanwhile, United Airlines, which has its largest hub at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, bettered its numbers considerably in March too, notching a 75.7 percent on-time arrival performance, up from a relatively poor 68.0 in February. American Airlines also improved somewhat to 71.7 percent on-time arrivals in March, up from a dismal 65.8 percent in February.

U.S. Airways, which is in the midst of merging with AA, was in the middle of the pack in on-time arrival performance, with 72.7 percent of its flights arriving on time in March.

The winter that is finally over was a challenge for all airlines. But as load factors climb and more flights begin to take to the air with the approach of the peak summer travel season, all the domestic legacy carriers that FlightView tracks will be hard-pressed to keep their on-time performance trending higher.

(Lewis Lazare - Chicago Business Journal)

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