Delta had worst cancellation rate among US airlines in May

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The uncharacteristically poor performance in May and lingering problems this summer were so concerning that Delta CEO Ed Bastian said last week the airline will halt flight growth the rest of the year in an effort to keep the flight schedule manageable and reduce flight cancellations.

“I’d like to sincerely apologize to those who have been impacted by cancellations, delays, and long wait times over the last two months,” Bastian said last week, adding that “restoring operational excellence is our top priority.” He said Delta’s July performance has been significantly better so far, with far fewer cancellations.

“By ensuring capacity does not outstrip our resources and working through our training pipeline, we’ll continue to further improve our operational integrity,” Bastian said. Delta has hired 18,000 employees in the last year and a half, “you don’t step into these jobs and you learn it overnight. There’s a significant learning factor that we’re also going through, ”he said.

There’s a lot at stake: If Delta doesn’t restore its reputation for running a quality operation, it risks losing the millions of customers it has managed to attract over the years because it was known for reliable flight schedules.

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Competing airlines, in fact, canceled fewer flights than Delta in May.

Chicago-based United Airlines and its partners canceled 2,674 flights in the month, a 2.4% cancellation rate. Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines and its partners canceled 3,052 flights, a 2% cancellation rate.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, canceled 809 flights in May, a 0.7% cancellation rate.

Delta and Delta Connection still managed to maintain relatively-good on-time performance in May, ranking second among US airlines with 80.7% on-time arrivals, behind Hawaiian Airlines with 86% on-time arrivals. However, Delta and other airlines had multiple tarmac delays that lasted more than three hours, according to the federal data.

Nearly 24% of the complaints to the federal government about airlines in May concerned cancellations, delays and other flight schedule disruptions. Another 30.5% of complaints were about refunds. There were a total of 245 complaints about Delta in the month – fewer than American, United, Spirit and Frontier, but more than Southwest.

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The DOT noted Wednesday that airlines are required to have a customer service plan on how it will mitigate inconveniences due to flight cancellations and misconnections, and the agency said it “monitors airlines ‘actions and reviews complaints that it receives against airlines to ensure that consumers’ rights are not violated. “

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