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WSU Newsline: Airline performance improves; Hawaiian still No. 1 in AQR
Monday, April 12, 2010 8:30 AM

The scripts are available for printing and for sound bite identification.

Go to http://www.wichita.edu/newsline to get the current Wichita State University Newsline. If you cannot access the Newsline at the Web address above, contact Joe Kleinsasser at (316) 978-3013 or cell (316) 204-8266 or joe.kleinsasser@wichita.edu. Newsline cuts may be edited to suit your needs.

If you have additional questions for Dean Headley on Monday, April 12, or Tuesday morning, April 13, call the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington, D.C., at (202) 783-7800 and ask for the room of Dean Headley. For more information, go to http://www.aqr.aero.

Background:

According to the 20th annual national Airline Quality Rating, Hawaiian is the best-performing airline. For the industry, it was the third best overall score in the 19 years researchers have tracked the performance of airlines.

The rating is conducted annually by researchers Dean Headley of Wichita State University and Brent Bowen of Purdue University. According to the Airline Quality Rating for 2009, Hawaiian is first, followed by Air Tran, JetBlue, Northwest and Southwest; the second five are Continental, Frontier, US Airways, American and ExpressJet; and No. 11 is Alaska, followed by Mesa, United, SkyWest, Delta, Comair, Atlantic Southeast and American Eagle.   

The AQR, as an industry standard, uses objective performance-based data to compare quality among airlines. The AQR measures performance in baggage handling, on-time arrivals, denied boardings and customer complaints. Comments on today's Newsline are by Wichita State airline quality researcher Dean Headley.

Voice wrap:

Announcer: According to the 20th annual Airline Quality Rating, Hawaiian is ranked No. 1 for 2009. It's the second consecutive year Hawaiian claimed the top spot. The study ranked the 18 largest U.S. airlines in on-time arrivals, baggage handling, denied boardings and customer complaints. Dean Headley, co-author of the national Airline Quality Rating at Wichita State University, says nearly all of the airlines improved their performance last year.

Headley: "Of the 17 airlines that we have in both 2008 and 2009, only one got worse this year, so 16 out of 17 airlines improved. Alaska was the only one that did not improve its airline quality score. Everybody else got better. That more or less kept them in the same kind of rank order — a few changes here and there, but not too much different."

Announcer: Headley says the top four airlines in 2008 remained the top four in 2009 — Hawaiian, AirTran, JetBlue and Northwest. The industry posted the third best overall score in the 19 years researchers have tracked the performance of airlines. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University.

Sound bite #1

Headley says the airline industry continued to improve its performance in 2009. The sound bite is 12 seconds and the outcue is "getting better."

Headley: "2009 shows continued improved performance for the airlines in their outcomes. It's the third best year we've had in the 20 years we've been doing this, so they're on the right track in getting better."

Sound bite #2

Headley says airlines are improving their supply and demand challenges. The sound bite is 17 seconds and the outcue is "and be better."

Headley: "Airlines have attempted to adjust their kind of supply and demand thing, taking seats out of service. And as that happens and they simplify the system, performance goes up. So we would expect to see, as fewer seats are available, that airline quality performance would increase and be better."

Sound bite #3

Headley says involuntary denied boardings was the only category that performed worse in 2009 than 2008. The sound bite is 21 seconds and the outcue is "find a seat sometimes."

Headley: "The only negative we saw in the four factors we look at was in involuntary denied boardings. On-time, and baggage handling, customer complaints all improved in '09, but it's somewhat normal that if you're taking seats out of service that denied boardings might go up. If there's fewer seats and volume kind of gets out of whack, why, people are not going to be able to find a seat sometimes."

Sound bite #4

Headley says revenue is more important to airlines than customer service. The sound bite is 20 seconds and the outcue is "take a back seat."

Headley: "What we've seen over the last year-and-a-half or two years, is that certainly revenue is important to the airlines. You have to have it to stay in business, but with all the things that they're adding and unbundling with baggage and ancillary fees of all sorts, it's clear that revenues are the most important element. And that makes customer service oftentimes take a back seat."

Sound bite #5

Headley says that because of the past 20 years of ratings, it's become clear that as more people choose to fly, service gets worse. The sound bite is 24 seconds and the outcue is "will get worse."

Headley: "As the airlines move to match supply and demand issues, we've seen over the cycle of the 20 years we've been doing this that it's clear that as the demand goes up and airlines try and fill that, service gets worse. So as you look at this, you have to have a picture that as pressure is put on the system, airline performance will get worse."

Sound bite #6

Headley explains why service is likely to decline if more people return to the skies. The sound bite is 25 seconds and the outcue is "currently configured."

Headley: "As the demand for flying comes back; more people fly. That means they might add more airplanes. More airplanes in the system with an antiquated air traffic control system and a limited infrastructure to airports — you just can't fly as many people and do it efficiently and on-time, and make the customers happy. The system will not stand large volumes of travelers as it's currently configured."

Sound bite #7

Headley says labor negotiations will be something worth watching in the next two years. The sound bite is 29 seconds and the outcue is "big thing to watch."

Headley: I think one of the biggest things on the horizon in the near future, year to year-and-a-half out maybe even two years, is that virtually all of the airlines that serve the domestic system either currently are or will be in labor negotiations with all of their unions. That can cascade down to work slowdowns and various other union actions if things aren't agreeable to all parties, so the union action is kind of the big thing to watch." 

 

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Contact: If you have additional questions for Dean Headley on Monday, April 12, or Tuesday morning, April 13, call the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington, D.C., at (202) 783-7800 and ask for the room of Dean Headley. For more information, go to http://www.aqr.aero.
Created on Apr 12, 2010 8:30 AM; Last modified on Apr 12, 2010 9:11 AM