Airlines Improve On-Time Flights

After a less than impressive first half of the year, commercial flights showed improvements over last year’s summer arrivals and departures times.

At the height of this summer’s travel season, airline flights were more likely to arrive on time and less likely to be canceled than they were last summer.


Over the first six months of this year, delays were the highest since 2008 and cancellations were the highest since 2000, so the improvement in airline performance in July was a welcome sight for travelers.

Recently, The U.S. Department of Transportation said that among 14 of the largest airlines, 75.6 percent of flights arrived on time in July, up from 73.1 percent in July 2013 and up from June 2014’s 71.8 percent figure.

Out of the airlines covered by the report 1.6 percent of their trips were canceled, down from 1.7 percent a year earlier and 2 percent in June.

The airlines with the best track record of arriving on time were Hawaiian, Delta and Alaska, who were all abo ve 84 percent.

At the bottom of the list was JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, with nearly one in three flights arriving late.

JetBlue spokesman Morgan Johnston said the airline was making better use of spare planes and adjusting staffing in its operations center to handle delays during summer thunderstorms. He said the airline’s August numbers, not yet released by the government, were better.

Southwest has been struggling to fly on time ever since tightening its schedule in August 2013. Senior vice president of operations Greg Wells said that the airline thought it could boost revenue by adding 16 plane loads of new flights, without increasing the fleet.

“We gave it our best shot,” Wells told reporters. “The combination of weather, higher load factors (fuller planes) and things like that just caused our on-time performance to plummet.”

Wells said the airline “stopped the b leeding” by focusing on starting morning flights on time, putting more time between connecting flights and allowing more time to unload and load planes. Since August 24, he said, the airline has been running at 84 percent on-time.