American Airlines Achieves Best Monthly On Time Performance For Almost 2 Years

American Airlines did not have a great summer period for 2019. Obstacles over the busy holiday period contributed to the airline suffering numerous delays and flight cancellations, culminating in it being the worst-performing major US-carrier. With its schedule winding down, and by addressing the problems it has faced, American Airlines achieved its best monthly operations performance for almost two years this September. Here follows a report on its latest numbers, as well as the potential reasons for the improvement.

American Airlines addressed its operational slump, after a poor summer season. Photo: LoadedAaron via Flickr

American Airlines’ September performance

American Airlines returned impressive figures for its September operations. In its latest reports, the carrier saw an overall improvement on its A-14 data for all regional and mainline flights. The airline’s on-time arrival rate for September 2019 stands at 82.9%, which is an increase of 7.8 percentage points on August. It is the highest on-time arrival rate American has seen in nearly two years.

In fact, 82.9% is the carrier’s seventh-best monthly performance since 2013. September 2019 also showed an improvement on September 2018’s operations. The significance of these percentage points becomes clear when one considers that each single point improvement means just under an additional 2,000 flights arrived on time.

American Airlines Achieves Best Monthly On Time Performance For Almost 2 Years
On-time arrival rates for September 2019 stands at 82.9%. Photo: Grant Wickes via Flickr

With on-time departures going hand in hand with on-time arrivals, American Airlines had their flights depart on schedule 75.2% of the time. These numbers show the reason behind its near 100% flight completion rate for a reliability factor of 98.1%.

A tough summer

American Airlines won’t be looking back at Summer 2019 with fondness. In a struggling year, it has lost major ground on its competitors, with United, Southwest, and Delta Airlines up by between 7%-19%. It canceled in the region of 3.5% of its flights in July, picking up the unwanted title of the worst operational performer of all major American airline carriers.

The poor showing can be attributed to three major disruptions to its operations. The grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX fleet on March 13 of this year put severe pressure on its scheduling. The 24 MAX aircraft would no doubt have been welcome in a period where the carrier also struggled with a labor dispute and storms during the summer months.

American Airlines Achieves Best Monthly On Time Performance For Almost 2 Years
A bitter labor-dispute with its mechanics contributed to American Airlines’ struggles this summer. Photo: Grant Wickes via Flickr

American accused its mechanics of deliberately slowing down their operations, obtaining a court order to resume their work as usual in a bitter disagreement with major transport unions. The airline claimed that the stand-off with its mechanics contributed to a 5% increase in its non-fuel costs.


American Airlines will be hoping that September has set the tone for further recovery of its affected operations. A relatively quiet month on the storm front, as well as the scheduling decrease from the busy summer months,  has set a platform for the airline to increase its reliability.

A court order preventing mechanics from disrupting operations is also helpful, but in order for American to make up ground on its competitors, it needs to step up its game in a big way. The question remains whether significant gains can be made for the rest of the financial year.