After two months with the industry's worst on-time record, Alaska Airlines pulled out of last place in July with 63.7 percent of its flights...
After two months with the industry’s worst on-time record, Alaska Airlines pulled out of last place in July with 63.7 percent of its flights arriving on time. The carrier was the fourth-worst out of 20 U.S. airlines that report on-time data.
The August numbers will be even better, the carrier said yesterday, with about 69 percent of its flights on time. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics will release those figures in a few weeks.
The new on-time figures represent a significant improvement from May and June, when Alaska reported 59 percent and 49.8 percent of flights arriving on time, respectively.
Alaska officials have attributed the problems to a combination of more-crowded planes, a series of labor negotiations, and changes in its work force. In May, its pilots took pay cuts of up to 34 percent imposed by an arbitrator, and the airline outsourced 472 unionized baggage-handling jobs at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
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The carrier has taken several steps to improve on-time performance. In June, it pulled 16 daily flights from its schedule. It plans to cut the number of flights again this month as part of its usual schedule reduction for fall.
Alaska also added 20 to 25 new customer-service positions and hired six people for a new position coordinating flight details at Sea-Tac. The company that now handles its baggage at Sea-Tac, Menzies Aviation, also added workers.
The airline renewed its emphasis on ensuring the first flights each day depart on time, said spokeswoman Amanda Tobin. “If the first flight of the day departs on time, it’s a lot easier for the rest of the flights for that specific aircraft to continue to get out on time.”
On the last day of August, Alaska exceed its on-time performance goal of 82 percent for the first time since performance began to lag. That day, 83 percent of its flights arrived on time, Tobin said.
“We’re grateful to customers and employees, who have been inconvenienced and challenged by the dip in on-time performance during previous months,” she said.
Alaska’s percentage of canceled flights also improved in July, to 0.7 percent.