During Delta's second quarter earnings call, CEO Ed Bastian gave a shout out to the Delta Connection group for their solid operating performance in 2018 highlighting a shift as the six-carrier regional network delivers some of the strongest reliability results on record.
For the year so far, Delta has notched 73 days without a single cancellation across the entire system — both mainline and Delta Connection — 35 days better than this time last year. For comparison, Delta in 2017 had 90 total days without a system-wide cancellation for the full year.
Contributing to that success is a significantly improving completion factor performance for the Delta Connection portfolio. Delta Connection has achieved 85 days with 100 percent completion factor year to date in 2018, compared to 49 days over the same period in 2017. This has resulted in Delta Connection nearly doubling both year-over-year 100 percent completion factor days and the number of "brand days" — days with no cancellations for Delta or any of its Delta Connection carriers — compared to last year.
"Thanks to the hard work of Delta people and our partners at each of the Delta Connection carriers, we're seeing truly remarkable operational results," said Bill Lentsch, Delta's Senior Vice President of Delta Connection and Delta Global Services. "Their dedication and commitment to delivering a safe, reliable, on-time operation means more customers are arriving at their destination on time and without disruption than at any other U.S. global carrier."
As Delta's mainline operational performance continues to improve for the benefit of the nearly 200 million customers the airline flies each year, the acknowledgment comes as Compass, Endeavor Air, ExpressJet, GoJet, Republic and SkyWest — the six carriers that make up the Delta Connection portfolio — continue to put intense focus on delivering the most reliable product for customers.
"All our partners in the Delta Connection portfolio are all operating as one Delta brand instead of six individual carriers," said Jonathan Puckett, Delta's Operations and Customer Center Brand Manager. "Just like the Delta OCC, Delta Connection is going above and beyond for our customers."
He notes that when an individual Delta Connection carrier is unable to complete a flight due to a mechanical or other issue, often another carrier will step in and substitute that flight to ensure customers get to their destination with little or no disruption. Last year, Endeavor Air, Delta's wholly-owned regional subsidiary, jumped in to substitute 480 flights operated by another regional carrier that would have otherwise been canceled.
Following the Delta spirit of innovative thinking, Puckett says there's been a sea of change in how the individual carriers operate. For example, as wild fires impact operations at Colorado's Aspen Airport, leading many other airlines to cancel flights, SkyWest — in collaboration with the OCC and Delta's Airport Customer Service team — worked to bus customers to nearby Grand Junction, Colo. to be accommodated on a re-timed flight.
Similarly in New York, the most congested and complicated airspace in the country, Delta "puts a lot of trust on the Delta Connection carriers in this important market and they continue to shine," Puckett said. "The individual Delta Connection operation centers, flight operations and flight attendant teams, all work together to share ideas on reliability improvements for our customers, pushing to better our performance year-over-year." For their part, Endeavor Air, SkyWest and Republic, the three Delta Connection carriers primarily operating in the Northeast have seen a five percentage point improvement in on-time departures compared to 2015.
Combined, the Delta Connection operation posted a 97.88 percent completion factor and nearly 72 percent on-time departures for the first six months of the year. Flights arriving at the scheduled arrival time in the same period clocked in at 67.1 percent and 81.1 percent for flights arriving within 14 minutes of scheduled arrival time, the Department of Transportation's current definition of on-time.