Category: flight

Cranky on the Web: Long Beach Modernization Pa…

Cranky on the Web: Long Beach Modernization Part Deux:

Long Beach Airport Revitalizing a Hollywood IconIcons of Infrastructure
They say write what you know, right? Well, here’s a piece I put together on the next phase of the Long Beach terminal modernization. Frankly, I didn’t really pay close attention to the new plan originally, but this is going to make life much nicer for travelers (at an airport where life is already pretty nice). Possibly the most exciting from an airline dork perspective is that the original terminal building will be completely opened up as it used to be. You’ll be able to walk around and through the whole thing. Sure, it’s sad that it won’t play a central part in the actual air travel journey any more, but it’s just too small and in the wrong place to be useful in that way anymore.

July 21, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

3 Links I Love: Why Won’t Airlines Fly Here?, …

3 Links I Love: Why Won’t Airlines Fly Here?, European Mergers, Spirit’s Next CEO:

This week’s featured link:
ROBERT PRICE: Struggling airport, growing city: What’s up with that?
This kind of of conversation has been had throughout smaller cities around the US. Why can’t we get more service? It’s never the population number that matters. A city with 100,000 consultants who travel every week will get a lot more service than a city with 1,000,000 teachers who don’t. (Yes it’s an oversimplification, but you get the point.) And geography does matter. The proximity of Bakersfield to the LA area is a huge pain point. Bakersfield will never have the choice and prices you can find in LA so a chunk of people will always drive. It’s a real issue, and I thought this was a good column about the struggles that smaller cities face.

Two for the road:
Dublin based City Jet merges with Spain’s Air
How about some sexy regional merger action? The suave Spaniard, Air Nostrum, is getting hitched to the red-haired Irish maiden CityJet.

CEO-in-waiting talks about Spirit Airlines’ futureAssociated Press
Ted Christie will soon be running Spirit. Here’s an interview with him.

July 20, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Republic “Commits” to Up to 200 Embraer Aircra…

Republic “Commits” to Up to 200 Embraer Aircraft It’ll Probably Never Fly:

This week is the Farnborough Airshow, a biennial orgy of aircraft orders where manufacturers try to flex their muscles and show the world just how much metal (or composites) they can sell. The whole thing is strange to me. Many of the orders are ones that have already been announced in some way or another, sometimes previously as being from “unidentified” buyers. But the news is choreographed to allow allow egos to be stroked, and that’s apparently considered necessary in this world. As usual, there were a slew of orders that rolled in this year, but one stood out because it’s just silly. Regional-operator Republic has gone and picked up 100 Embraer 175s with options on 100 more. Oh, and it has the right to convert to the larger E2 aircraft if it wants. I doubt any of these end up flying for the airline.

I suppose I should be clear here. These aren’t even truly orders. Republic has just signed a “Letter of Intent” for 100 of them (a purchase agreement should be signed “later this year”), and it now has “purchase rights” for the other 100. I’m guessing that’s just a fancy of way of saying they didn’t need to put down much money, but they can take the airplanes if they want them down the line. In the meantime, Embraer gets to pad its order book and make it look like it’s selling a lot more airplanes than it really is. The problem is, Republic doesn’t fly airplanes under its own brand. It only flies as a regional feeder, and its partners don’t need more regional capacity.

Republic used to have a diverse fleet, but now it only flies Embraer 170/175 aircraft. Currently it has 84 E175s flying as American Eagle, 20 E170s and 16 E175s flying for Delta Connection, and 38 E170s plus 28 E175s flying for United Express. I should note, these numbers are from Wikipedia so they might not be completely accurate. I didn’t bother to confirm, because the real number doesn’t matter enough for me to bother. Just know the airline operates a ton of Embraer 170/175s, so it does make sense that if it orders anything, it would be more of the same. But the bigger question here is… what will it do with 100 to 200 more of them?

The natural thing to do would be to place more airplanes with its existing partners, but that seems unlikely. Each of the big three US carriers has a strict scope clause which limits just how many regional aircraft can be flown in the 70 to 76-seat range. You can learn a bit more about that here.

The allocations of those aircraft are all full, unless something changes. I wouldn’t expect these rules to change through labor negotiations or anything like that. Sure, American could grow its fleet by also growing its mainline fleet, but it would need to add 250 mainline airplanes to be able to get 100 more regionals. Don’t count on it, and even if it did, don’t count on Republic winning that business.

The best growth potential is if United decides to order a 100-seat aircraft to be flown by the mainline operation. If it does, it will be able to add up to 70 new airplanes under regionals in the 70 to 76-seat category. But if that happens, is United really likely to give that flying to Republic on airplanes that Republic owns? It doesn’t seem likely. Look at what United did just one day prior to this announcement. United itself ordered 25 Embraer 175s. These aren’t new-growth airplanes but rather they’re going to replace CRJ-700s that are currently flying. (They will have only 70 seats on them, because they are replacing 70-seat aircraft and United has no room to grow 76-seaters.) But the point is… UNITED ordered the airplanes. It will then pick which regional it wants to fly those airplanes on its behalf.

This isn’t a new strategy. United owns the Embraer 175s that Mesa flies for the airline. And back in 2016, it even took over an order of 24 Embraer 175s that Republic was going to buy. Instead, United bought them and had Republic operate them. United isn’t alone here. American has been ordering its regional aircraft recently as well.

So what in the world is Republic thinking with this giant commitment? Will it add new partners? I can’t imagine so. Alaska doesn’t seem to need a new partner and that leaves… nobody else. Republic did used to fly under its own “brand” when it bought Midwest and Frontier and merged them. Maybe it’ll bring that idea back. Or not. That will never happen again considering how poorly that went.

Instead, this sounds like a good old-fashioned made-up commitment. I assume Embraer just needed to pad its order book for some reason, and Republic was the one who jumped in to help. This certainly isn’t unprecedented. Remember when Republic ordered the CSeries back in the day? Yeah, that order may even technically still exist, but there’s no way that airplane flies for Republic either.

July 19, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Flying What’s Left of Virgin America on Alaska…

Flying What’s Left of Virgin America on Alaska Airlines to Seattle (Trip Report):

Last year, I turned 40. This year, it was my wife’s turn. And for her 40th, she wanted to go on an Alaska cruise with me and the kids. After looking at all the options, she picked a trip on the new Norwegian Bliss, and that meant we’d go roundtrip from Seattle. Though we thought about flying on JetBlue out of Long Beach, Alaska had a better fare by far (could use my annual companion ticket that comes with the Visa card) and better times out of LAX. We were originally booked on an Alaska 737 one way and a Virgin Airbus the other, but after a schedule change, we found ourselves on the remains of Virgin America both ways. I can’t say I enjoyed the flights as much as I usually do when flying Alaska. I’m just writing up the flight north today, but I’ll have the return soon.

Unfortunately, when you buy the companion fare, you can’t put any other person on that reservation, so I had to book two separate itineraries. That was frustrating, because I realized at check-in that my free bag allowance only applies to people on the same reservation, so we were only allowed two free bags for the four of us. We did get to print those bag tags at home, which was a first for me, and we found a way to optimize carry-ons so we didn’t need a third bag.

Our Lyft driver dropped us off at Terminal 6 just a little over an hour before departure. We walked right up to the bag drop and asked for a self-printed bag tag holder so we could insert the tags. Then we walked past the below ever-so-pleasant affirmation and headed to security. There was no line.

We were at one of the old Continental gates that passed on to United through the merger and then went to American before going to Alaska. The last time I flew from this gate was on a United flight to Maui. At least the terminal is much nicer now.

Boarding began far too early, as Alaska likes to do for some strange reason (40 minutes before departure for an A319). The announcements weren’t very clear, and the screen didn’t accurately show which rows were boarding. So it was somewhat confusing. But we got on and found our seats.

June 21, 2018
Alaska 1763 Lv Los Angeles 750a Arr Seattle 1037a
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 62, Runway 24L, Depart 28m Late
Seattle/Tacoma (SEA): Gate D3, Runway 16R, Arrive 35m Late
N525VA, Airbus A319-112, Virgin America colors, ~95% Full
Seat 5B, Coach
Flight Time 2h9m

It sure felt like a Virgin America flight when we were onboard, but as has often been the case, the airplane looked dirty and worse for wear on the inside. You can see some grime here.

The seatback pocket was hanging off. It looked like it would snap back on, but it didn’t.

There was no Alaska branding to speak of, including the safety video, safety card, etc. They really need to expedite the refit of these interiors, because they clearly haven’t received the attention they need.

One of the pilots came on a little before scheduled departure time and started speaking in airline jargon. I have no idea how many people understood what he was saying, but it couldn’t have been that many. He mentioned a ground delay program, wheels up times, and vectors, among other things. Ultimately, the story was that the clouds were low in Seattle, and we should expect a long taxi before we could get in the air, but he never said anything about pushing back late. Then, we sat. There were a lot of chimes going off, but there wasn’t a peep from the cockpit or the flight attendants for the next half hour as we crept past departure time. The flight attendants flipped on the safety video at the gate, but that was pretty much it.

The Red entertainment system is still intact on this airplane, sort of. The Live TV is long gone, and I think there was music before that’s pulled off as well. The movie selection is good, but the TV shows are pretty limited. All that Virgin made/sponsored content is gone. I turned on a movie (CHiPs, and I know, I regret it as well) long before departure, and it was half over before we even took off.

When we did push back we taxied all the way over to the north runways before finally getting airborne. The flight itself was quick. Once we were up above the low marine layer, it was a beautiful day and it was smooth sailing as we stayed fairly far east (passed over Reno).

I had gone back into Red and ordered a hot tea for me and an orange juice for my son. The flight attendants mentioned ordering through Red in an announcement, so that should have still worked, but it apparently wasn’t being used on this flight. When they got to our row, they asked what we wanted. I mentioned what I had ordered on the system and she starting working on it as if it were a new request.

The cups and napkins had Virgin America branding. Presumably they’re just using up what’s left in the warehouse.

Once my movie was over, I didn’t have enough time to watch another. My wife and daughter were separated from us by a few rows (thanks to being on different reservations during the schedule change), so this was the perfect opportunity to use the seat chat function. It worked, sort of, but the keyboards are all in bad shape. It was easier to just not try to communicate.

I flipped on the moving map and pulled out my phone. Thank you, T-Mobile, for the free hour of wifi. It was moving surprisingly fast on this flight, so I just had my tea and read the newspaper on my phone. How civilized.

Once over Oregon, a low cloud layer set in as well as a higher one. It was strategically placed to prevent any good mountain viewing on this flight. We started descending over Washington, and the high clouds were gone. All that remained was a low layer under 4,000 feet. We were on the left side, but I held out hope that we’d make the turn and get to see Rainier. (My wife had never been to Seattle, so this would have been a first.) Sadly, that didn’t happen. We made the turn earlier than I thought, and just as we were about to come around, we plunged into the low cloud layer and lost visibility. Drat.

We popped out underneath and had a nice view of Lake Washington and Boeing Field below us. Then we put down before having a somewhat long taxi to find our D gate. That concourse was jammed, and I was just happy to get out of there. My wife commented on how the airport seemed pretty bad from a first impression. D gates will do that to you.

We headed into Seattle for a whirlwind 2-day visit. Then it was time to cruise.

July 17, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

No, Norwegian Hasn’t Turned Into a Profit Mach…

No, Norwegian Hasn’t Turned Into a Profit Machine:

I don’t usually cover earnings here on the blog, but there were so many stories wrongfully touting Norwegian’s miraculously-profitable Q2 that I had to write it up. The airline is a master of confusion when it comes to corporate structure and earnings information, so I can understand why some would just take the easy way out and call it profitable after last year’s terrible losses. After all, that’s what the press release says, so it has to be accurate, right? But even a slightly deeper look at the Q2 report shows that things are hardly as rosy as the airline would like you to think. Earnings appear to be better than last year, maybe, but that’s like saying that this glass of spoiled milk tastes better than the last one you drank. It still doesn’t taste good.

Norwegian’s press release sings it from the rooftops: “Norwegian reports solid profit in Q2.” Solid. Presumably this is a classic effort to try to put lipstick on a pig. There are already multiple airlines interested in buying Norwegian, so if it can juice its numbers in the short-term, it’ll be able to help increase that sale price. I’d just be careful. Getting too greedy (or being too cocky) could result in investors losing everything.

The reported net profit of NOK 300 million sounds remarkable, especially compared to last year’s disastrous NOK 691 million loss. Bloomberg apparently fell for this narrative with an article entitled “Norwegian Air Shares Jump After Reporting Surprise Profit” and another ridiculously bullish piece headlined “Norwegian Air Shuttle Conquers America.” You would hope Bloomberg wouldn’t be so superficial. I looked at the airline’s full Q2 report to dig in further.

Why didn’t this smell right to me? Well, here you have an airline that’s growing extraordinarily quickly. It saw available seat kilometers (ASKs) grow 48 percent over last year. Meanwhile, its fuel costs increased by 84 percent. On a per tonne basis, that’s an increase of nearly 28 percent. The airline’s load factor dropped almost a point, and it’s unit revenue declined by 11 percent. Sure, some of that decrease is offset by the fact that the average sector increased by 20 percent — longer flights have lower unit revenue — but it still seemed impossible that the airline could turn such a profit looking at those numbers. Then you look at unit costs, and you can under why. Those dropped like a rock by 19 percent excluding fuel. But how?

Let’s start with the most obvious problem here and work our way down, shall we? Norwegian had one-time gains and losses which it lumps under the title “other.” I’ll let Norwegian tell you about that. From the report:

Other losses/(gains) amounted to a net gain of NOK 455 million, compared to a net loss of NOK 197 million last year.

Well, sure. A massive NOK 652 million swing in one-time gains/losses year over year is going to skew those results. If you just take that NOK 455 million out of the net profit number, Norwegian immediately swings to a net loss.

But there’s some other funny stuff in here. Year-over-year, Norwegian has added 22 new airplanes while redelivering 4. It has also suffered through big 787 engine issues. Yet with all that, its maintenance expense was effectively flat. (It technically rose ever-so-slightly from NOK 647.1 million to NOK 650.6 million.) How is that possible?

Norwegian gives us some insight in this Q2 presentation.

Lower technical cost (-32% per ASK) due to one-off effects related to renegotiation of technical maintenance contracts

Well that’s interesting. Because when you look at the one-off items that Norwegian listed out under that NOK 455 million we talked about before, this isn’t there. Those costs are described as follows:

Other losses/(gains) include effects from foreign currency contracts, forward fuel contracts, total return swaps, losses or gains on translation of working capital in foreign currency and net losses or gains on sale of fixed assets.

So this magical one-time maintenance holiday just shows up as lower maintenance costs on the year, I assume. And presumably since Norwegian itself describes them as one-offs, we’re going to see maintenance costs rise significantly next time.

Sure, even with some adjustments the numbers look better than last year, but last year had that “kitchen sink” feel to it where Norwegian just threw a bunch of bad stuff in there. Something to counter the idea that last year was worse… the cash flow statement. In Q2 of this year, Norwegian saw net cash from operations of NOK 1,246.7 million. Last year, during the disastrous second quarter, the operation actually generated more at NOK 1,396.7 million. Food for thought.

As has always been the case, deciphering Norwegian’s results can be a harrowing and confusing experience for anyone. But for all those outlets that gushed about how Norwegian is now profitable, you don’t need to dig that far down to see it’s not really true. Norwegian wants its results to look good… and they do on the surface. But underneath? The patient has not suddenly been cured.

July 16, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Cranky on the Web: Huntsville Scares Birmingha…

Cranky on the Web: Huntsville Scares Birmingham:

Frontier Airlines adds another city in Alabama, but what will it mean for BHM?Birmingham Business Journal (soft paywall)
You wouldn’t think a couple flights a week to Denver and Orlando from Huntsville would really mean all that much outside of Huntsville itself, but you’d be wrong. Birmingham isn’t that far, and it only recently picked up service from Frontier itself. Is this move into Huntsville going to hurt Birmingham? I was asked to comment.

July 14, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:



we only need .85 of the MIA mkt

pricepoint too

something diff with Eos – we’re only 29 seats

ff progr – they’ve been devalugin big time

for ppl we are perfect for, we are the best option
-we’re perfect for business travelers, particualry between big cities

4x a day mia-nyc or nyc-chi, not like AA, stduies say that’s enough freq
i wouldn’t say we’re trying to compete on price, but that was the #1 factor in developing aura
2 classes of service – 8 wave, 21 first

op by presidential aviation – part 380/135

what can the big guys do and how will you survive?
-think of AA, they’ve redcued price of F so they aren’t reducing it more
-even if commercial airlines want to engage in aprice war, fundamental value doesn’t change – AA will always fly out of commercial airports

1st flight mid-late 2019, acquire begin oct, in refurb this winter
also mia/nyc/chi-atl

generally private airports in each city but it’s more convenient we’ll use, so using private side of MIA
opalocka airport
private side ewr/lga/hpn
chi exec, private ord/private mdw
traffic studies of each city
lgb and bur

backed by private investors worldwide, won’t talk about funding
no fewer than 4 aircraft

membership is like amazon prime
fares are fixed for one year, no penalty to cxl

roam luggage – customzied luggage, 30% off for keyholders

perfect lbank cvanvass – no airliners is built for 30 pax, bigger than what was commerically designed for 30, CR7 is best, E75/70 bigger and costs are higher –

July 13, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

3 Links I Love: Ode to the Dash, Fare Weakness…

3 Links I Love: Ode to the Dash, Fare Weakness, Asiana Crash Response:

This week’s featured link:
Dash 8: The Piedmont StoryYouTube
As you know from reading the blog, Piedmont just retired its last Dash 8 from service. It had flown that airplane for more than 30 years, so you can imagine that it was an important aircraft to the airline. Turns out, it was so important that Piedmont put together a half-hour documentary looking at the airplane, and it is just delightful. At the very least, put this on in the background while you work. You’ll enjoy it.

Two for the road:
American Air Sinks Most in Two Years on Surprise Fare WeaknessBloomberg
Fares are weak, fuel is climbing… look for more capacity moves if things don’t change quickly.

‘S*** happens’: New questions surface about response to Asiana plane crash at San Francisco International AirportABC7 News
I hadn’t thought about this accident in a long time, but there’s new video shedding light on the response from the SF fire department after running over one of the passengers.

July 13, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

JetBlue Supersizes Itself With A220 Order, A32…

JetBlue Supersizes Itself With A220 Order, A321 Upgauge:

It wasn’t long ago that Airbus finalized its deal to take control of Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft program, so to celebrate, the aircraft has been renamed in the Airbus naming convention. Say hello to the A220. (No, it most certainly does not rattle off the tongue easily.) In what appears to have been a well-choreographed effort, Airbus quickly unveiled its first big order for the newest baby bus soon after the rebranding. JetBlue will take 60 of the -300 (formerly CS300) series with options for more. At the same time, JetBlue is converting 25 A320neos into the larger A321neo. Like most airlines, JetBlue has found magic in the ability to upgauge. This particular move seems like a huge win for the airline and for travelers.

Today, JetBlue operates the Embraer 190 with 100 seats. When JetBlue ordered that airplane 15 years ago, it knew it needed to get into a smaller aircraft than the A320 to grow its focus cities to their full potential. The 100-seat Embraer was the best option available at the time, and JetBlue today has 60 in operation. But it’s long been known that JetBlue wasn’t happy with the airplane. The Embraer had reliability issues, and it wasn’t as efficient as hoped. JetBlue put out a great stat saying that though the Embraer is only responsible for 11 percent of the airline’s available seat miles, it’s responsible for 20 percent of expenses. Yet JetBlue relied on that airplane to really build the backbone of its Boston focus city. Some of the destinations from Boston just couldn’t be served profitability with a bigger airplane. So we should salute the Embraer even though it’s had one foot out the door for years.

JetBlue had already deferred 24 orders out into the end of time, and it had publicly stated it was looking at its options. Now, it’s the A220 that’s the big winner. The aircraft will be delivered between 2020 and 2025 (weighted heavily into the 2023/2024 timeframe) and the Embraers will be phased out at the same time. The remaining 24 Embraers on order have been canceled.

What’s so great about the A220? Pretty much everything. In an investor presentation, it’s shown that the A220 has direct costs per seat 25 to 30 percent lower than the Embraer including ownership. So let’s do a little math. The Embraer has 100 seats, but we don’t know how many the A220 will have. SWISS has what would be 145 in an all-coach configuration, but JetBlue is more generous with legroom. Let’s say it’s 140 just for argument’s sake. If that’s true, then JetBlue can effectively fly an A220 with 35 percent more seats for about the same trip cost as it can fly an Embraer today.

That’s pretty remarkable, but won’t that be a lot of seats? Yes indeed. I’m sure some are surprised that JetBlue didn’t go for the A220-100 (formerly CS100) with fewer seats onboard. It can convert orders into the -100 if it wants, but it makes sense to go for the -300. Think about it this way. If there are smaller markets where JetBlue thinks a 100-seat airplane is good today, then the -300 can fly those just as profitably as the Embraer can even with a bunch of empty seats. But if those markets can generate a little more traffic at lower fares, then that’ll all be gravy. The economics should improve.

More importantly, this airplane now has some serious versatility. JetBlue showed the map of Boston with the A220’s range in its investor slides.

As you can see, the -300 can cover all of North America, Northern South America, and yes, it can push into the British Isles. Throw Mint on there with a less dense configuration and maybe it can do more than that. The airplane has great short-field performance. I imagine Boston and JFK will get flights to Orange County in California pretty quickly. Having those extra seats and the extra range can make a big difference in letting this airplane do a lot. (Moxy may be unhappy about this.)

It can also step in and fill in some of the thinner A320 markets with ease. Remember, JetBlue has had the A320 with 150 seats but it recently started its upgrade program which will convert them to having 162 seats. But JetBlue wants to go bigger than that. As mentioned, as part of this order, JetBlue agreed to upgauge its 25 A320neo orders into A321neos. Here’s a delivery schedule comparison from before versus today.

Those A321s in an all-coach configuration will have 200 seats, though some will likely be delivered in the 159-seat Mint configuration.

In short, JetBlue is upgauging everything. In markets like New York to Florida, that A321 will be a rock star. It’s a bottomless pit of demand in there, and the unit costs are just so low on that airplane. But on the lower end, the A220 should be a perfect fit for the airline as well. It can handle some lighter A320 markets that are too far for the Embraer to handle today. It will also provide more seats in smaller markets that could use them. Even in those markets that don’t need more seats, JetBlue can operate the larger airplane for the same cost as the Embraer. Sounds like a great strategy to me.

Other than Embraer (and those who keep typing A320 instead of A220 every…single…time, grrr), everybody wins in this deal.

July 12, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Fun with Numbers: America’s Most Unreliable Ai…

Fun with Numbers: America’s Most Unreliable Airports:

It’s so common to come across an article trying to arbitrarily rank airlines or airports one way or another that I generally have little trouble ignoring them all. But when I saw Airways cite a study saying that Los Angeles International (LAX) was the least reliable in the US, I couldn’t help but let curiosity get the best of me. How is that possible? This is just more proof that you can make numbers say anything you want. This isn’t helpful for travelers at all. Instead, it’s just clickbait. (And yes, I know I’m helping fuel that fire just by writing this, which is unfortunate.)

A website called had someone pull up the flight status information that is publicly reported through the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The article doesn’t make it very clear what data is being used, and I can’t get it to match exactly in my initial search. (Frankly, it’s not worth wasting time on a deeper dive.) But I’m guessing that this is likely using something similar to the arrivals at each airport by all reporting carriers for full year 2017. Regardless, the “analysis” itself was pretty simple. They just added up the number of delays of 15 minutes or more by airport and divided by the total. The winner? Well, LAX was responsible for 8.03 percent of delays with exactly 52,056 reported. So it’s clearly the least reliable since it had the most delays… right?

There are so many problems with this it’s hard to know where to start. Of course, the first issue is that this only looks at the data that’s reported. That means it’s for only the biggest US-based airlines on domestic flights, so it’s far from presenting a full picture. (Smaller US airlines started reporting in January of this year, but that’s probably not in here, or at best only for part of it.)

Then there’s the bigger issue at hand that the analysis doesn’t look at the denominator.

They say LAX had 52,056 delays. My look at DOT data shows that there were closer to 54,500 delays during that time period, but that’s close enough. My data also shows during 2017 that there were 214,312 arrivals on reporting carriers giving the airport a 74.5 percent on time rate. That’s not great on-time performance, and I’ll talk about that further later, but it’s still misleading to say LAX is the least reliable airport.

Size Skews Everything
You probably just assume LaGuardia is going to be at the top of the list, right? Well it’s not even on this list, and there’s a simple reason why… it’s just not that big. According to the data I’m using, LaGuardia had just over 26,000 delays for 2017. That must mean it’s twice as reliable as LAX, obviously. Though the reality is that LaGuardia had only 93,334 arrivals recorded, and that means it had worse on-time performance, 72 percent, than LAX. Neither are good, but you get the point. You need to know the denominator to really be able to judge someone’s chances for encountering a delay when they fly.

Another example is this gem: “When choosing among airlines, note than Allegiant Airlines accounted for only 0.10% of all delays of 15 minutes or more at minor airports, whereas Southwest Airlines accounted for 25% of such delays.” First, yes, Southwest will have the most delays in minor airports, because a lot of smaller regionals that fly for the legacy airlines didn’t start reporting until 2018. (I don’t know the cut-off for considering an airport “minor,” but San Diego is considered minor, so it’s not that small.) Allegiant didn’t start reporting data until this year either (this part must have used some 2018 data, I guess), so the data is automatically going put that airline in a favorable light.

But let’s say Allegiant’s data was fully reported just for argument’s sake. It’s going to look better than Southwest no matter what, because it’s smaller. Southwest flew 1,347,893 flights last year. Allegiant flew 93,061. Let’s say Southwest pulled off the impossible and ran on time 93 percent of the time. If that happened, Allegiant could run every single flight late and still look better than Southwest in this so-called analysis.

Context Should Matter
The other issue here is that the data has no context. In Los Angeles in 2017, the first five months of the year were pretty terrible. Once the whole Delta terminal swap completed in May, however, on-time performance rates jumped up for nearly everyone. Take a look:

It’s a tale of two very different airports once the switch occurred. I mean, if you just took the number of delays from the last six months of the year and doubled them, you’d be shy of 40,000 on the year. That’s a far cry from the actual 50,000+ delays that allows Finder to call LAX the least reliable even though it’s not today’s reality. Context makes a huge difference.

So is this entirely garbage? Pretty much. There are interesting ways to slice and dice this data, but Finder apparently chose to just take the easy way out.

July 10, 2018 at 01:45PM Source: