FlightStats recently visited Alaska Airlines’ Seattle headquarters to award the operations team with their seventh consecutive On-time Performance Service Award for Most On-time North American Major Airline.
“Recognizing an airline’s continued commitment to operational excellence is one of our greatest privileges,” said Mark Tilden, Director of Product and Co-founder of FlightStats. “It takes hard work and focused attention to achieve the title of Most On-time North American Major airline for seven years in a row. No other airline has won this award as often as Alaska has and they have every right to be proud of that achievement.”
The FlightStats OPS Awards recognizes airlines around the world that deliver the highest percentage of flights to their arrival gates within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.
About the OPS Awards
Eight years ago, we started the Annual On-Time Performance Service Awards to recognize airlines for achieving exceptional on-time performance in spite of the many challenges working against them. Our experience in the aviation industry has taught us how difficult it is for airlines to get their passengers from point A to point B promptly.
The OPS Awards program is designed to shed a positive light on airlines as well as give the best of best the acknowledgment they deserve. Additionally, we aim to provide an example of success to others in the industry.
For the North American Major Airlines category, our team analyzed the on-time arrival performance of the 12 major carriers in North America operating 9.1 million flights in 2016, which includes all flights within an airline’s network, mainline and regional. A tracking threshold of 90% was used to limit the analysis to the carriers we recorded comprehensive historical data for in 2016.
This year, we decided to expand the awards to recognize the best Major Global Airline and best Major Global Airline Network in each of the regional categories. “Network” is defined as a system of flights that are marketed by a major airline but are operated by a separate airline partner. Since airlines don’t always have operational control over their regional carriers, we wanted to make this distinction in our awards. In many cases, the winner is the same for both categories; however, in some cases, they could be different.
In the case of Alaska, the airline was able to take home both titles with an on-time performance of 87% in the Major Global Airline Network category and an on-time performance of 87.51% in the Major Global Airline category. Additionally, Alaska improved their network on-time performance from last year by 1.34%.
Alaska was able to maintain an on-time performance of 87% while operating more than a quarter million flights each year. The FlightStats team tracked 356,596 flights for Alaska in 2016.
Improving on-time performance with data and collaboration
Even the most established businesses still need to rethink their direction regularly, and the smartest leaders know to leverage performance data to influence their planning. Data plays a critical role in helping airlines understand how they’re doing, how they can do better and whether the changes they make are meaningful.
One of the main reasons Alaska has been able to maintain its title as most on-time North American airline is the essential role performance data plays in their operational planning. They hold weekly meetings with the entire executive operational team to drill down on the numbers and discuss anomalies that affect their on-time performance.
While nothing trumps safety, Alaska uses performance data to help drive strategic decisions in each department. They hold monthly operational planning meetings, where representatives from dozens of agencies, from flight attendant training to maintenance to the schedule and operations people, attend to report their metrics and key findings in regards to their performance.
There are about 30 people at the meeting who arrive ready to dive into detail on little things that affect whether a flight departs on time. Together, the team analyzes why an event happened and what they need to do to prevent it in the future, whether that means additional training, messaging, technology, etc.
Integrating data into customer service
Not only does data play a fundamental role in Alaska’s operational planning, but also it is incorporated in the way they communicate with travelers. When the Alaska’s flights don’t perform as expected, they make sure their travelers have the right information at the right time and in the proper context of their trip through the FlightStats Trip Alert service.
We’re proud to partner with Alaska in powering their Trip Alerts, which triggers highly relevant messages based on the context of the traveler’s entire journey, even when the trip contains flight segments operated by codeshare or interline partners. Passengers get seamless information for their journey, whether Alaska operated the flights or not. With this service, Alaska provides a higher level of service to travelers by ensuring the right data gets delivered, whether it’s the initial flight of a trip, a connecting flight, or the final flight home.
Using the OPS Awards as a key success metric
For the past seven years, the OPS award has been a meaningful metric Alaska uses to measure their performance. In fact, the trophy itself sits on a raised desk at Alaska’s Operations center where everyone can see it.
“We truly value this recognition and award. Getting our guests where they need to go safely and on-time is our number one goal. FlightStats data helps us measure data to ensure we’re meeting our customer commitment and operational goals,” said Todd Sproul, Alaska’s Managing Director of System Operations Center (SOC).
FlightStats’ Co-founder, Mark Tilden, presented Alaska’s OPS Award to Todd Sproul in March.
Accomplishing more with On-time Performance analysis
Our free monthly on-time performance reports and annual OPS Awards are just the beginning of what you can access. We offer an OTP Analysis Workbook that provides a comprehensive and granular analysis of key performance metrics. These workbooks include visualizations and reports focusing on airline and alliance benchmarking, departure and arrival statistics, trend analysis, carrier performance comparison, and daily/hourly analysis. Reviewing these metrics will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your airline and your competitors. With our data, you can continue to improve your operations and maybe even win our OPS Awards next year.