Delta rebounds from August cancellations

Carrier boasts strong operational performance 

Hot on the heels of two days of cancelled flights in early August, Atlanta-headquartered Delta Air Lines is reporting a new record for uninterrupted flights.

The carrier sent an email proclaiming the accomplishment just before 1 p.m. Eastern time on Sept. 1.

“It’s been more than 130 hours and roughly 25,000 flights since Delta and its six regional partner airlines last canceled a flight, delivering 2.2 million customers to their destinations,” the carrier said, adding that, “[W]ith each passing flight that number grows.”

Delta Air Lines jet departing Sea-Tac International Airport (SEA)
Delta Air Lines airliner departs SEA
The solid five days of cancel-free operations on both mainline and regional flights brings the total number for the year to 37. By comparison, Delta (NYSE:DAL) had only 11 cancel-free days in 2015, but was nonetheless the industry leader, the carrier said.

The most recent achievement is being hailed by airline executives as a strong come-back from the computer problems that grounded flights starting in the early morning hours of Aug. 8 and continued to affect flights through Aug. 10.

“The Delta team rallied to repair the brand nick we experienced with the IT outage by immediately rebounding to industry-leading performance and delivering the reliability our customers expect from us,” Gil West, Delta’s senior EVP and COO, told employees Thursday. “It’s been an incredible and unprecedented comeback.”

Delta’s regional partners that operate under the Delta banner are ExpressJet, Compass, GoJet Airlines, Endeavor Air, Shuttle America and SkyWest.

Meanwhile, Delta’s domestic mainline operation is on a 10-day streak during which more than 91 percent of flights have arrived within 14 minutes of the scheduled arrival time, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) definition of an on-time arrival. That accomplishment marks the longest on-time arrival streak during the busy summer months in the airline’s history, the carrier added.

The solid operational streak adds to several similar records set to date in 2016. In May, Delta went 16 full days without a mainline cancellation and just over six days without a combined mainline and regional cancellation. To date, Delta has recorded 148 days without a mainline cancellation. That compares to 84 days at the same point last year. During all of 2015, the airline had 161 days without a mainline cancellation.

In a video debuted on the airline’s social media pages earlier in the week, employees reaffirmed their commitment to reliability.

“Being reliable is what we’re all about at Delta,” an employee says, followed by others who add, “It’s who we are.” The video’s refrain stems from an Aug. 9 video in which Delta CEO Ed Bastian assured customers, “This is not who we are” in the wake of the operational outage.

While Delta’s cancel-free streak may be noteworthy, it is not completely surprising to industry observers, including TheTravelPro.

In June, the latest month for which data is available, the DOT reported Delta had the lowest flight cancellation rate among U.S. carriers, with just seven flights cancelled of 61,661 scheduled. That number is well ahead of those for the other two legacy U.S. carriers. United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) cancelled 305 of its 39,520 flights while American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) cancelled 637 of its 66,454 flights during the month.

Delta also finished third in on-time performance for the first two quarters of 2016, behind Hawaiian Airlines (NYSE:HA) and Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK), but well ahead of both American and United.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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