Mar 27, 2023 - News

Philly airlines meltdown metrics

Just over 76% of domestic flights departed Philadelphia International on time in December 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

That was down from 84.6% in November 2022, a 8.5% percentage point drop, per recently released data from the agency's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

The big picture: Nationally, just 69.1% of December's flights departed on time.

  • That figure is generally between 75%-80% in a typical month, albeit with predictable dips in the busy — and often meteorologically challenging — summer and winter travel seasons.

Driving the news: The real story in December was, of course, Southwest Airlines' epic meltdown.

  • Only 57.6% percent of Southwest flights departed Philly on time in December.
  • The airline's struggles dragged down the average for all carriers reporting data to the federal government.

Zoom in: Philly travelers fared much better than those in other major cities at the end of last year.

  • Denver International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport posted some of the worst on-time performance rates in December, at 57.4%, 61.7% and 66.4%, respectively.
  • Denver is one of Southwest's busiest airports, and in fact, weather and staffing issues there helped trigger Southwest's broader systemwide mess.

Yes, but: All indications so far suggest Southwest has recovered nicely since December, though BTS' data reports lag by about three months.

  • The airline promised to update key systems that exacerbated December's meltdown, as well as better communicate with passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled in the future.

What they're saying: "We spend a lot of money on technology and recently put in a new state-of-the-art maintenance system, a new reservation system and a new human capital workday system," Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told Axios' Eleanor Hawkins.

The bottom line: December was truly just as bad as it seemed, the data shows.


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