After the opening of 15 new gates in terminal E satellite at Dallas Fort-Worth last month, American today is offering 900 flights and will continue to do so on peak days from the airport this summer. That’s a year-over-year increase of 100 flights.
American has already made changes to their operation that should improve reliability this summer, like delaying conversion of additional Boeing 737-800 aircrafts to new denser interiors, potentially providing for additional spare planes and slack in the system.
Dallas Fort-Worth won’t be without challenges — DFW is colloquially known as “Doesn’t Function Wet” — but according to an internal communication there are several moves American has made to help with their operational reliability.
- Hired more employees in Customer Care, Maintenance and Flight Service.
- Expanded access to equipment with 180 new items “including bag tractors, belt loaders, pushouts and bag carts” and “added vending machines that dispense supplies such as wands, headsets, radios, batteries and more, which gives team members immediate access to the tools they need rather than spending time searching or borrowing from other areas”
- Retiming departures to the minute starting in July. Instead of timing departures in five minute increments, offering an exact departure minute “will reduce the number of aircraft scheduled to push back and depart at the same time, reducing potential queuing time and taxi delays as planes make their way to the runway.”
- Pushing back widebody flight times “to the end of each bank [of departures] to reduce ramp and runway congestion” which may or may not be desirable for customer connection times.
- Better gate assignment sending aircraft to gates closer to their arrival runway, or to their planned departure runway, so that planes don’t taxi as long.
- More diversion cities so that when flights can’t land at DFW they don’t all wind up in the same place, so there’s less of a queue to get back into the air once things are clear.
One thing to note is that the B terminal at DFW will no longer be exclusively for regional jets. Gates B5 and B12 have been “resized to accommodate mainline aircraft.” Additionally at B American “developed an outbound bag room and expanded [their] baggage handling system with five new piers and coming soon, a new baggage carousel.” Terminal E will also be getting an Admirals Club.
There are additional steps that American can and should take, of course. One is getting a mechanics union contract done, to put acrimony with their workers behind them. Things have recently escalated between the company and TWU-IAM, and the airline sued the mechanics’ union over charges that mechanics were purposely slowing down their operation.
Another is scheduling crews to stay with aircraft when possible. Today when a plane arrives at an airport and will operate another flight, the crew from that plane likely go on to fly a separate third flight. That means when the plane is delayed, two onward flights are delayed instead of just one — one because of lack of aircraft, the other because of lack of crew. Keeping crew and planes together prevents cascading of delays.
American says they’ve “started service from DFW to 23 new markets and increased service to more than 80 existing markets.” Hopefully the DFW and summer 2019 experience will prove positive as American prepares to operate over 700 daily departures from Charlotte by the end of the year.