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Low Spirits: Airline's Punctuality Record Plummeted In July

Low-cost airline Spirit suffered a July it would much rather forget, as it posted the smallest percentage of on time flights among any of its major competitors. According to newly published data from the FAA, only 64.26% of their flights were on time over the course of the month, down from 74.1% in June.

Perhaps more shockingly, 1.75% of flights had to be cancelled entirely, also a record for the month. Meanwhile, as shown in the graph below, just shy of ten percent of their flights experienced delays for which the air carrier was at fault, or 1,819 flights.

% Flights Delayed By Airline

This figure is only overshadowed by Southwest Airlines, who posted the highest delay figures amongst any of the major airlines for the second consecutive month, with 11.29%. Their punctuality was not a great deal better than that of Spirit’s either, only managing to ensure 67.86% of their flights arrived in a timely fashion.

However, this actually represents an improvement of over 5% for the Dallas-based airline on the month of June, so it can arguably be taken as a mitigated success.

Recent press coverage suggests this logistical turbulence at Southwest is still ongoing, as Fox reported earlier this month that the airline had to cancel over 1000 flights in one day, Sunday 10th October. This represented a scandalous 29% of their traffic for the day.

% Flights Cancelled By Airline

The airline denied reports of employee demonstrations being the principal cause, instead citing bad weather and air traffic control in Florida. CEO Gary Kelly was compelled to apologize to customers the following Tuesday, as delays and cancellations continued into that week.

July was by no means a bad month for the big airlines as a whole, however. American Airlines and United both credibly ensured > 70% of their flights arrived on time. In the case of American Airlines this represents 53,447 timely arrivals. However, United arguably delivered a more impressive all round performance, albeit with a smaller fleet: the Chicago-based carrier had only 1.35% per cent of flights cancelled and 7.83% delayed, compared to 1.68% and 8.99% respectively at American. This bodes well for United’s ambitions to increase their international capacity by 10 percent in 2022.

% Flights On Time By Airline

The most successful figures, however, unequivocally belong to Delta, who saw 84.88% of their flights arrive on time. This was over 11 per cent better than their closest rival, and more in raw numbers than even American Airlines (59, 419). Meanwhile their cancellation figures were the lowest by some distance, at only 0.09% - or 63 out of 70,002 flights. Unsurprisingly, it also kept the lowest percentage of delays for which they could be faulted, at 6.64%.

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