The New American Quickly Goes To Work On Timely Departures

It’s no secret Doug Parker and his team has made a difference at US Airways in terms of on-time departures.  It’s also no secret that American lags behind US Airways and a bunch of other airlines when it comes to on-time performance and a number of other key metrics tracked by the Department of Transportation.

According to the internal memo below, Doug and team are quickly working to improve American’s performance the same way they did with US Airways:

The New American

Essentially, all mainline employees can earn an extra $150 a month if they best Delta, Southwest and United in 3 core categories, on-time performance, baggage handling and customer satisfaction.  All employees will receive $50 per category airline is tops in.

There’s also an “honorable mention” of sorts, a $50 payment per employee if the airline has an on-time departure percentage of 70% of better.  I had to take a second look at that number because it seemed awful low.  Then, I turned to Scott McCartney’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal ranking the various carriers.  His article states that the industry average is 78%.

So, why is American paying it’s employees if 70% of flights depart on-time?  I dug for a bit more data and found that American has scored in the high 70s/low 80s for most of the last two years, and only scored less than 70% once.

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I can’t imagine that the difference between on-time departures and arrivals is that disparate, but I could be wrong.  It seems to me that the “Olympic Qualifier” is really just a feel-good bonus for employees during integration.

At any rate, if you missed Scott’s article earlier this month it’s certainly worth a read.  As always, he has some cool graphics to outline where the various carries fell on the performance scale.

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I think it’s also important to note that while US Airways did fare better than American, they never finished higher than 3rd in any category, averaging a finish between 5th and 6th.  I applaud their efforts to improve on-time performance on behalf of both airlines but the statistics suggests the US Airways model still needs a bit of work.

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4 Comments

    1. I know my stats are an anomaly over the last few years but I’ve had very few delays. That being said IAD and DEN don’t generally suffer from the delays other airports do and I normally schedule myself early in the day at DFW during the summer thunderstorm season.

  1. Yeah, your very few delays are in line with your upgrades at Hyatt 😛

    Historically, AA is known for being dead last, legacy United was great on ontime before the merger and is definitely back in the 80s while AA is still dead last. I’ve only had 5 flights on AA this year. 2 out of 5 have been 15 minutes delayed or more. It of course has to do with American having an ancient fleet with lots of mechanical problems with MD80s and 757s, so I expect an automatic improvement from AA regardless of Doug and his cash bonuses. US Airways of course is better, but their main two hubs don’t have weather problems like AA and UA, that’s why they are performing better, not because he knows how to run an airline (look at Hawaiian). But this bonus is definitely smart. It just amazes me how long it takes AA (and UA for that matter) to turn a 737-800. Some stations use over an hour and it’s pretty obvious that the employees couldn’t care less. With this bonus, I expect stuff to improve, but mechanicals due to old aircraft and poor maintenance will of course continue

    1. US is better but not by as much as you might think if you look at the DOT stats. Given the fact that US has hubs that are less prone to weather than AA and the influx of new planes to replace the old Mad Dogs I think the numbers were likely to improve without much other influence. Whether they get ahead of where US is now remains to be seen. I think it’s unlikely.

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