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Which Airlines Were the Most On-Time This Summer?

Delta and Spirit airlines were the best-performing carriers this summer when measured by on-time data.

In the months of June, July and August, 80% and 78.6% of Delta and Spirit flights respectively were on-time. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a flight is considered on time when it operates within 15 minutes of its schedule.

The national average across all airlines submitting data to the FAA was an on-time percentage of 74.5%, meaning just under 3 in every 4 flights operated on schedule.

Of those flights delayed, 8.5% were due to ‘Air Carrier Delay’. These delays are those that are considered within the carrier’s control because of causes such as maintenance or crew issues, baggage loading delays, or fuelling problems – the metric seeks to differentiate uncontrollable delays from carrier performance. Delta and Spirit also performed well on this metric. 7.9% of Delta’s delays were considered avoidable, while Spirit registered an impressive 5.5%. This placed both within the top three performing airlines amongst the subset considered.

JetBlue performed notably poorly compared to its competitors. Only 65% of their flights were on-time, 10% lower than the industry average, and 13.4% of delays were classified as Air Carrier Delays. American Airlines, the largest airline in the world when measured by fleet size, also performed under par, with only 67.6% of their flights on time. However, only 9.2% of those were considered to be within the airline’s reasonable control.

August was the best month for the industry. 75.5% of all flights were on-time across the month. While the gains were marginal, on-time performance improved consistently across the period. Despite significant media attention regarding disruptions across the industry, this summer’s performance is statistically comparable to previous years. Excluding data from 2020, a year that witnessed hugely reduced air traffic and resulted in a 91.3% on-time rate, this year’s results compare closely with the summers of 2019 and 2021 which registered on-time performances of 76.1% and 74.3% respectively

This continues United Airlines’ strong performance this year, ranking third for on-time delivery. Thus far in 2022, Delta and United have both cancelled a lower proportion of flights and been more punctual than their competitors in the US. This data released by the Bureau of Transportation supports the decision of the Skytrax Airlines Awards voters to award Delta the title of Best American Airline. Delta ranked 24th globally, with United ranking 60th.

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