Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Delta Air Lines scores big June on-time victory with United Airlines a solid No. 2

I can certainly say, that the airline I retired from (Southwest Airlines) is definitely not the same airline I started with 22 years ago.......very sad!!!

Michael Carter
Editor and Chief 
Aero Pacific Flightlines

Delta Air Lines demonstrated once again in June that it's the on-time arrival leader among the four largest domestic carriers, while low-fare behemoth Southwest Airlines once again was at the bottom of the pack, according to airline data giant OAG, which released its June on-time arrival data today.

Delta Air Lines finished June in relatively impressive fashion, with 81.2 percent of flights arriving on time. The U.S. Department of Transportation considers a flight to have arrived on time if it reaches the gate within 14 minutes of its scheduled arrival time.

United Airlines, on a tear to improve service after the man-dragged-from-plane incident in early April, finished last month a very solid No. 2, with 78.6 percent of flights arriving on time. United appears to have cracked the whip and gotten its regional jet vendor operators to post better on-time arrival results along with the carrier's major push to get arriving mainline flights to the gate on time.

Meanwhile, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines had disappointing on-time arrival results in June.

American was a distant No. 3, with 74.4 percent of flights arriving on time. Though there have been reports of AA management urging gate agents to get flights out on time no matter what, the carrier is still struggling to get arriving flights to the gate on time.

Sources say issues withing the airline's scheduling department may have contributed to the falloff in on-time performance. (AA posted a 79.7 percent on-time arrival rate for its flights in May.) It's also worth nothing that it's been nearly a year since Scott Kirby exited the airline as president. He was considered the operations guru at American, but now Kirby's at United, where on-time performance is dramatically improving. And yes, weather was a factor, with AA hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth and Charlotte hard hit by ugly thunderstorms at various times during June, according to an AA spokeswoman.

Southwest's on-time performance, 73.6 percent, was the worst of the four major domestic carriers in its first full month of operation with a new reservation system in place. Southwest also finished in last place in May. Whatever the new reservation system's advantages, it doesn't appear to have had an immediate impact on the carrier's on-time results.

However, the growing number of larger Boeing 737-800 aircraft in Southwest's fleet may have been a factor in Southwest's declining on-time performance. (Its May on-time arrival rate was 77.6 percent.) Southwest typically allows for a 45- to 50-minute turn time for its 737-800 aircraft, which at capacity hold about 30 more passengers than do the hundreds of 737-700s in Southwest's fleet.

But if a full 737-800 arrives at the gate late, it can be a struggle to deplane the passengers, board another full complement of passengers and get the plane out on time — as this reporter has witnessed on numerous occasions. Southwest now has 151 737-800s in its fleet of aircraft.

Southwest has its largest hub at Chicago's Midway Airport.

On the flight cancellation front, June was a grim month for American, according to OAG. The world's largest carrier cancelled 2.3 percent of its flights, the worst of the four major carriers by far. United Airlines cancelled 1.3 percent of flights, Southwest cancelled 0.9 percent of its flights and Delta canceled just 0.6 percent of flights.

(Lewis Lazare - Chicago Business Journal) 

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