American Airlines shared performance stats with employees yesterday after “three weeks on the books for the 2019 peak summer travel season [and] 11 1/2 more weeks remaining.”
Looking specifically at June 7 – 13, here’s how their performance stacks up for departing exactly on time (“D0”), turning aircraft on time (“T0”), and not cancelling flights for reasons within their control.
Despite a company-wide push for exact on time departures for years and operational changes meant to improve the airline’s reliability they only managed to hit D0 57.8% of the time. That to me is horrible, even if their goal was only 64.2% (‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’).
The battle with American’s mechanics right now has gotten vicious. The airline even took its union to court to get them to stop intentionally slow walking and causing delays. This isn’t just about writing up items unnecessarily, it’s about waiting to write up items until the last minute forcing delays and about taking longer than necessary to complete paperwork too.
American makes excuses, telling employees that they were hurt by “a widespread Rockwell Collins transponder failure that impacted some regional Bombardier CRJ aircraft operated by Mesa, PSA and SkyWest” as well as “severe weather, which resulted in more than 360 departure cancellations over a two-day period at DFW.” However weather cancellations weren’t controllable, and ‘things happen’ is precisely why their goals aren’t 100%.
Notably D0 goals were exceeded in Asia, Europe and South America, and aircraft turn time goals were exceeded in Caribbean and Europe are all above the T-0 goal. In other words, the places least affected by mechanics’ operational sabotage did well and North America fared even worse than the data above suggests.
This issue with mechanics needs to be solved quickly. We’re only about a third of the way into the summer peak schedule. The airline gave mechanics a raise without a new contract, reducing the gap between what they were making before and what they’ll make once a new deal is ratified. That means there’s less pressure on employees to get a deal done, and less on the table to get them to agree to concessions on scope (having non-union workers fix planes) and benefits (moving legacy US Airways mechanics over to the less generous American health plan).
More Passengers Than Ever Waiting to Be Delayed
American needs to keep crews with planes, so that when an aircraft is delayed that doesn’t cascade into delaying more than one downline flight. They also need to increase block times — that’s expensive in the short run, but right now American just needs to stop the spinning. Focus on getting each step along the process right so that planes are able to push back on time and that there’s a gate and staff to meet each aircraft so it arrives on time, too. In other words, D0 isn’t the only metric that matters Delta by the way focuses on A0.