American, Southwest still failing to get passengers on time after pandemic – Chicago Tribune

As passengers exited pandemic restrictions and pent-up demand for travel in 2022, airline on-time arrival rates were still below 2019 levels for most of the nation’s major carriers, including American Airlines. based in Fort Worth and Southwest Airlines based in Dallas.

According to the Department of Transportation’s latest Air Travel Consumer Report, in 2022, marketing airlines (including major carriers and regional airlines with which they contract) had an on-time arrival rate of 76.72%, which is lower than the 78.97% of the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.

American and Southwest did “slightly better” with on-time performance during the pandemic, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise as fewer passengers were traveling amid global disruptions, said John Grant, a UK-based senior analyst. . for the OAG.

“All airlines strive for on-time performance and I suspect we will have some challenges for the rest of this year, given the resources we have available and the pressure it can put on all airline operations,” Grant said. “If these numbers were to improve by 2023, I think that would be a really positive development, but it’s going to be hard for anyone to do that.”

US airlines are flying more than the rest of the world, he said, but timeliness has suffered. He attributes it to increased “congestion” with rush-hour travel and recruiting and keeping employees.

“That is as vital for pilots as it is for ground handlers, dispatchers [and] anyone involved in the industry,” Grant said. “The entire industry is struggling to get things back and even when they do get things back, or bring new people into the industry, we are seeing some of them require longer training periods.”

American Airlines ranked second in marketing airline on-time arrival rates for December 2022 with 73.7%, behind Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines with 77.5% arrivals at time. But for all of 2022, American ranked fourth in on-time arrivals at 77.1%, with 1.7 million scheduled operations. American flies to 350 destinations in 50 countries.

Grant said Delta’s on-time performance has been consistently high over the years, compared to American and United, which have had periods of ups and downs.

Despite a storm that disrupted travel across the country, American had the lowest canceled flight rate in December 2022 at less than 2%. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines suffered the worst operational interruption in the company’s history.

Following the strong performance over the holidays, David Seymour, American’s COO, sent a letter to team members. Seymour told US employees that he served nearly 10.2 million customers on nearly 90,000 flights from Dec. 16 to Jan. 2.

“To be clear, we know that none of this was easy,” Seymour’s letter said. “They went to work for 18 straight days, an ongoing battle to deliver for our customers who counted on us. On behalf of our leadership team, I’ll just say, thank you.”

Southwest, still reeling from a December collapse that stranded thousands of passengers across the country, had the highest percentage of canceled flights in December 2022 at 14.6%, ahead of Alaska Airlines. with 7.6% and Allegiant Air with 5.3%.

Industry-wide, carriers had a 5.4% cancellation rate in December. Of that rate, 54.5% of cancellations were from Southwest. The Department of Transportation reported that Southwest canceled 14,042 flights between December 24 and 31, representing 72.3% of all flights canceled by reporting airlines during that time.

Overall, reporting marketing companies posted a 2.7% churn rate in 2022, up from 1.9% for the same period in 2019 before the pandemic.

Southwest ranked sixth in on-time arrivals in 2022 at 73.18%, with 1.3 million scheduled flights last year. Southwest operates at 121 airports.

“We understand the root causes that led to the discontinuation of the vacation and are validating our internal review with third-party assessment,” Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said. “Now, we hope to mitigate the risk of an event of this magnitude happening again.”

This week, Southwest unveiled a three-part plan to boost operations, including winter operations changes, operational investments and cross-team collaborations. The carrier’s leadership has apologized many times for the disruption it caused to passengers.

It’s a situation where Grant says time will only heal Southwest’s “perception of punctuality.”