We have been tracking the US airline on-time performance since 2016. Here’s a different look at the data, with a focus on airports.
The Top 25 are selected by the number of flights. The list presented is arrival delay minutes in descending order. What we see is remarkable consistency.
Newark is not a great place to fly to if it’s on-time arrivals you’re hoping for. JFK is not much better. Then there’s La Guardia. Basically, the New York area is unlikely to offer you an on-time arrival. As we come out of the pandemic, the big three New York area airports are doing no better.
2020 was an awful year for the industry, but it was a lovely shade of green if you did fly in the US.
Combining the US airline industry operating costs per minute and tying this back to the table above shown provides sobering numbers. These delays don’t come at no cost. We estimate the 2021 US airline cost per minute across the board at $101.
Based on that, here’s what we estimate the big three New York airports cost each delayed arriving domestic flight. 2020 was a wipeout year and 2021 is still going in the wrong direction.
Given average fares, the 2021 number is worth about 9 passengers. Consider what that kind of revenue would do for the airline industry. And that’s just for the big three New York airports.
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.
Sadly, none of this needs to be this way as most delays can be easily prevented. Airlines could rapidly adopt Operational Excellence, so as to cut delays and CO2, while also improving profits.
Additionally, these numbers do not account for the huge cost of the extra schedule buffers already in place. Consider that Greg Wells at Southwest Airlines said:
“It would cost us approximately eight to 10 airplanes of flying per day if we were to add just a couple of minutes of block time to each flight in our schedule” (Chicago Tribune, March 3, 2011).
With around 20 minutes of schedule buffer per flight today (flight and gate), this equates to around 80 to 100 aircraft per large airline – flying around, increasing costs, wasting fuel, and generating CO2 – simply because of the airline’s antiquated, easily updateable 1950s “day of” production process.
Thanks, Michael your experience as an airline pilot and expert on this issue is much appreciated.