As expected, September was a grim month for American Airlines according to the latest figures released by FlightStats. The beleaguered airline – beset not just by bankruptcy but by labor strife as well as a rash of loose seat incidents – racked up 21,237 delayed flights and canceled another 1,391 to finish the month with a dismal on-time performance rate of just over 59%.
American Ranks Last
By way of comparison, here are the on-time statistics for the largest U.S. carriers:
- Alaska Airlines – 89.13%
- Delta Air Lines – 88.78%
- US Airways – 87.15%
- Southwest Airlines – 86.27%
- Jetblue – 82.98%
- United Airlines – 80.87%
- Air Canada – 68.59%
- American Airlines – 59.08%
Delays: Maintenance, Loose Seats, Emergency Landing
This past Saturday, an American plane was forced to make an emergency landing because of an apparent problem with a wing flap. The flight, which was supposed to arrive at Orange County in Southern California instead landed at Los Angeles International because of its longer runways. Passengers were ultimately transferred to another plane and arrived at their original destination a couple of hours late.
American blames many of the delays on excessive maintenance reports. According to one report, a spokesman for the airline said, “We have seen an unprecedented increase in pilot maintenance write-ups, many at the time of scheduled departure, which are certainly not safety related.” Then there was all those loose seats incidents of last week – a bona-fide safety issue – as seats aboard several American 757s were found to be loose enough to slide around during flight. The result: dozens of aircraft were briefly grounded for repairs.
Some Signs of Improvement
Although there are signs of improvement – possibly spurred by American’s willingness to resume talks with its unhappy pilots – the airline’s record for the first week in October revealed nearly 3,300 delayed flights compared to just over 2,200 for United and fewer than 2,000 for Delta.