(The Hill) – Passenger complaints are up as airlines cancel and delay flights this year, but reliability varies between airlines.
Department of Transportation (DOT) released The latest air travel consumer report late last month, noting that roughly 24 percent of commercial flights between destinations in the United States did not arrive on time in the first half of the year.
That number jumped 52 percent from the same period last year, even though carriers are operating more flights in 2021 as more Americans avoid the worry of catching COVID-19.
Travel demand has now rebounded to levels not seen since the pandemic, but the airline industry has fighter to meet the influx of passengers, facing problems such as staff shortages, bad weather and high fuel costs. Some airlines have also blamed labor shortages on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Here’s how the percentage of on-time airline arrivals in the first six months of 2022:
1. Hawaiian Airlines: 82.14 percent
Hawaiian Airlines beat out other airlines for the top spot, with more than 8 in 10 scheduled US flights arriving on time.
Those airlines are smaller than the nine included in the DOT analysis, and Hawaiian also topped other carriers last year.
About 91 percent of Hawaiian’s US flights during the first six months of 2021 were on time.
“We are proud of our frontline team and everyone who supports our operations to get our guests to their destinations on time and with aloha while maintaining an industry-leading on-time record,” Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva said.
2. Delta Air Lines: 80.75 percent
Delta Air Lines and flights operated by regional operators marketed under the Delta brand were ranked No. 2 in the DOT’s report.
Flights operated by Delta itself slightly outpaced the percentage of on-time arrival of its regional carriers. Just over 80 percent of US Delta-operated flights arrive on time, about a percentage point higher than its codeshare partners.
Delta has touted his leading record in his promotional appeal to customers, saying Wednesday it was prepared to bring up to 2.9 million passengers through the upcoming busy Labor Day weekend travel.
“We look forward to welcoming our customers over the Labor Day weekend,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, in a statement. “We’ve taken steps this summer to ensure people have the tools and support they need to deliver high standards of reliability, while offering Delta’s signature customer service with warmth and care.”
3. Alaska Airlines: 78.91 percent
Alaska Airlines and its codeshare partners clocked in at No. 3 on the list, with only 8 out of 10 US flights arriving on time during the first half of the year.
Flights branded as Alaska Airlines but operated by its regional partners, Horizon Air and SkyWest Airlines, arrive on time about 81 percent of the time, slightly more often than those operated by Alaska itself.
An Alaska Airlines spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
4. United Airlines: 76.92 percent
United Airlines’ on-time arrival percentage was listed about two percentage points below Alaska, with 76.92 percent of flights marketed by United Airlines US arriving on time in the first half of 2022.
The figure marks a drop from the same period in 2021, when 83.47 flights marketed by the airline arrived on time. United is also ranked No. 4 during that period compared to other operators.
United achieved the second-highest quarterly results in the company’s history this year, which was also the airline’s first profitable quarter since the start of the pandemic.
A United Airlines spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
5. American Airlines: 76.75 percent
American Airlines, which marketed more flights than any other carrier in the first half of the year, clocked in the middle of the pack, barely behind United Airlines.
Like United, very few of the flights marketed by American Airlines are operated by the carrier’s regional partners.
The regional carrier’s flights arrived on time 78.01 percent of the time, compared to 75.33 percent operated by American Airlines.
Pilot unions at the three regional carriers wholly owned by American Airlines – Envoy Air, Piedmont Airlines and PSA Airlines – recently announced a contract agreement which includes a significant salary increase as part of their efforts to attract and retain pilots.
6. Kulon Airlines: 73.87 percent
Just under 74 percent of Southwest Airlines flights arrived on time in the first half of the year, earning the carrier sixth place out of 10 airlines assessed by the DOT.
As the industry faces scheduling snafus in part due to labor shortages, the airline said in a statement that it has increased its full-time equivalent employee base to more than 62,000, which is higher than the number of employees at the end of 2019.
“While on-time performance through June was low, our flight completion factor has recently been among the highest in the industry,” said the airline.
Most other major carriers use the hub-and-spoke system in which airlines concentrate flights in a handful of central airports. But Kulon is one of the few exceptions, instead using a point-to-point strategy that offers direct flights between many small airports.
7. Roh Airlines: 69.31 percent
Roughly 7 out of 10 Spirit Airlines flights arrive between January and June, placing the low-cost carrier at No. 7 in the DOT ranking.
When reached for comment, a Spirit Airlines spokesman pointed to a company statement last month that showed its operational performance ranked among the industry’s best in the two months after Spirit’s peak summer schedule went into effect on June 5.
“These great results are the best in the industry and are due to the relentless dedication of our Roh family,” John Bendoraitis, the company’s chief operating officer, said in the statement. “Our team is rising to the occasion to serve the growing number of summer travelers and working to challenge the industry to deliver a high value experience for our guests.”
8. Frontier Airlines: 64.50 percent
More than a third of Frontier Airlines flights don’t arrive on time, according to the DOT.
About 81 percent of Frontier flights are on time in the first half of 2021.
The airline is one of the smaller commercial carriers in the country, marketing the third-lowest number of flights out of 10 assessed by the DOT, with only Hawaiian Airlines and Spirit marketing fewer flights.
A spokesperson for Frontier Airlines did not return a request for comment.
9. JetBlue Airways: 62.08 percent
About 62 percent of JetBlue flights are on time in the first half of 2022.
JetBlue spokesman Derek Dombrowski said 70 percent of the airline’s flights touch down on the northeast corridor, a congested air traffic area often disrupted by severe weather events. The airline was also affected by air traffic control constraints in April and by sick calls due to the pandemic, he said.
Some airlines have blamed staffing challenges at air traffic control centers run by the FAA, which have sometimes led to flight delays. The challenge has been articulated in New York and Florida.
“JetBlue has taken several steps to improve our operations and reliability, and our completion factor has greatly improved in recent months,” said Dombrowski, noting that the airline now has record staffing levels after spring hiring and push training.
“This investment has led to significant improvements despite the continued constraints on the air traffic system in New York and Florida,” he added.
10. Allegiant Air: 61.63 percent
Allegiant Air is at the bottom of the DOT list, with 61 percent of flights arriving on time. Roughly 74 percent of Allegiant’s flights in the first half of 2021 arrived on time.
The airline said in a statement that some of its crews maxed out on the number of hours they could fly under FAA regulations during the first half of the year, and the limited availability of reserve crews caused some delays.
Allegiant, like other airlines, said it is also traveling with crews out of service due to the COVID outbreak and facing “unprecedented” labor shortages.
“We are actively working to reduce that by offering additional incentives to attract and retain employees, including higher wages, bonuses, work schedule flexibility and more,” the airline said.