JetBlue didnt quite go from first to worst,
but it came close. The carrier known for its customer service had
the best on-time performance of all the major U.S. carriers in
2004, but it dropped to ninth out of 11 major carriers in 2005,
according to figures from the Dept. of Transportations monthly Air
Travel Consumer Report.
Even worse for
JetBlue, it ranked next-to-last, last and last among major carriers
in the final three months of 2005. JetBlue blames the precipitous
drop on several factors.
" As a
customer-service principle, JetBlue is loath to cancel flights --
it canceled just 0.4% of them in December 2005, for example -- so
its on-time performance is more vulnerable to bad weather and air
traffic control issues. Of course, that also was true in 2004, when
JetBlue ranked No.1.
" JetBlue has run
into some software glitches with its new Embraer 190 aircraft. The
Federal Aviation Administration also has higher flight-visibility
standards during a new aircrafts first 100 hours of operation, said
JetBlue CEO David Neeleman said.
Embraer reliability has been improving each week. The airline said
it has resolved many of the software issues, and it also has
reduced its planned Embraer capacity for the first quarter by
That should help
for 2006, but Embraer issues could not have been a major
contributor to the 2004 decline; JetBlue put the first Embraer into
service in November.
" Many airports
where JetBlue has significant operations have been experiencing
warmer-than-usual winter weather in the New York area has created
some problems with fog, and construction at New Yorks Kennedy
Airport was closing some runways and taxiways during the day,
For example, the
on-time rate for all airlines at Kennedy -- JetBlues home base -was
just 65.4% in December. The rate was 58.5% at Newark, where JetBlue
has been adding operations, and 65.7% at Fort Lauderdale, a major
a day in which he said JetBlues on-time performance was at 87% but
finished the day at 71% after ground delays occurred at LaGuardia,
Boston and Newark.
JetBlue said it has
been making some adjustments to improve its on-time performance.
Those have included asking Kennedy to close taxiways and runways at
night instead of the day, increasing the time window for flights,
adding a spare aircraft for operations in Fort Lauderdale and
working with the Federal Aviation Administration to improve
operations there, and making some crew assignment
I dont think well
get back to 81% or 82% [on time] this year, but I think we can
narrow the gap and get back to the mid-70s or high-70s, Neeleman
The other big mover
in the full-year on-time ranking was America West, which made a
huge leap from worst to first. Thats a major achievement, but one
that soon will be diluted: From now on, the DOT will be combining
America Wests results with those of merger partner US Airways,
which ranked seventh among the major carriers for on-time
performance in 2005.