Tracking the US airline industry provides us with several models that are interesting, but on occasion, we see something really interesting.  This is one of those – our On-Time Flight Planner model. We have used this model to provide readers with a way to better plan US flights – after all, your time isn’t free is it? 

We ignore that 15-minute rule as a guide.  If an airline sells a schedule for 100 cents on the dollar, and you buy that, you’re entitled to get what you paid for.  it works like that in every other transaction.  Of course, there are exogenous factors like weather that throw everything off. But the weather isn’t the biggest disruptor.  Most disruptions come from operational inefficiencies.  Only they don’t always get called that. If ever.

Here’s the model updated through January 2022. As you can see the later you fly, the greater your chances of arriving late.

But the part that we really like is on page 2.  Take out the brands and just look at the industry.  2020 was an excellent year but for Covid.  The green (good) area is getting smaller over time.  This tells you what you need to know about flying in the US.  It’s getting worse in terms of on-time arrivals. 

How does one fix this? Are there too many flights? Perhaps, fly larger aircraft with a smaller schedule?  Airlines are doing that with growing MAX9 and A321 fleets. As the next chart shows on average there are more seats per flight and it is rising fast.

The single-aisle fleet in the US is going through a big change as the next chart illustrates. Yes, it’s hard to see, please click the chart to see it larger. We tried the keep families in a similar color. 

If we clean up this chart and focus on MoM aircraft we get the following chart. You can clearly the change taking place over time.  As always, out with the old and in with the new.

But the change is bigger than that, as this next chart shows.  Interesting, right?

This brings us back to the question of how to fix the growing delayed arrival numbers?  Bigger airplanes have not helped enough.  Do we need even bigger aircraft? 

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Addison Schonland
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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.

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