Friday, August 17, 2007

Flying the crowded skies

Been flying this summer? I have. Like the millions of other travelers out there, I’ve noticed the crowded airports and wondered, “Is this the worst it has been?” So I pulled the following data from a late July edition of the Wall Street Journal:

• In June 2007, 20,301 flights were canceled in the US. This is more than
double the number in June 2006
• Among the 40 largest airlines, more than 30% of flights scheduled to land in
the US were late
• Load factors are running at 80-85% this summer (that is the percentage of
filled seats on a flight)
• The 40 largest airlines flew 14% more flights in June 2007 as compared to
June 2006
• Flight delays in July 2006 averaged almost 60 minutes
• Almost 10% of flights January - June 2007 were more than 45 minutes late

So you would think complaints must be the highest ever, right? Actually not. Complaints about air travel problems and delays are actually down. Are expectations about air travel so low that customers don’t think their comments will even make a difference? And are efforts such as Delta’s Experience Change ( program too little too late?

It gets worse when you consider these sentiments expressed in the article:
• “A great management in that business will not necessarily get a great
result,” said Warren Buffett.
• Airlines ranked below the IRS in customer satisfaction, according to a
University of Michigan survey

What could turn this industry around? And could anything make the situation so bad that people actually stop flying?

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