WSU Newsline: Airline performance improves to best ever
Monday, April 2, 2012 8:30 AM

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

Go to http://www.wichita.edu/j/?1524 to listen to the audio for 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.

According to the 22nd annual national Airline Quality Rating (AQR), AirTran is the best-performing airline of 2011. For the industry as a whole, it was the best performance ever in the 21 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 2012 Airline Quality Rating, AirTran is first, followed by Hawaiian, JetBlue, Frontier and Alaska; the second five are Delta, Southwest, US Airways, SkyWest and American; and No. 11 is Continental, followed by United, Atlantic Southeast, Mesa 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 22nd annual Airline Quality Rating, AirTran is ranked No. 1 for the 2011 calendar year. It's the second consecutive year AirTran has claimed the top spot. Dean Headley, co-author of the national Airline Quality Rating at Wichita State University, said the big story is how well the airlines performed overall in 2011.

Headley: "The good news this year is that airline quality has improved again for the fourth year in a row. But better than that it's the best we've seen in 22 years of doing the Airline Quality Rating."

Announcer: Following AirTran in the rankings were Hawaiian, JetBlue, Frontier and Alaska. The Airline Quality Rating ranked the 15 largest U.S. airlines in on-time arrivals, baggage handling, denied boardings and customer complaints. Most of the improvements were slight, but the airlines improved dramatically, by 30 percent, in the area of involuntary denied boardings. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University.

Sound bite #1
Headley explains why the airline industry had its best performance in 21 years of the Airline Quality Rating. The sound bite is 14 seconds and the outcue is "by 30 percent."

Headley: "The Airline Quality Rating looks at four things — on-time, baggage handling, customer complaints and a thing called involuntary denied boardings. All of those got better, but involuntary denied boardings was dramatically improved, by 30 percent."

Sound bite #2
Headley says the airlines made a concerted effort to improve in the area of involuntary denied boardings. The sound bite is 15 seconds and the outcue is "for this year."

Headley: "Over the years the airlines have improved many things — customer complaints were reduced and baggage handling was improved. Involuntary denied boardings was one of the few areas they really needed to work on the most, and they actually did a major change in that area for this year."

Sound bite #3
Headley says there were only a couple of significant changes in the ranking of airlines. The sound bite is 17 seconds and the outcue is "a year before."

Headley: "Most of the airlines in the ranking were basically the same, except Frontier made the most gain. They went from ninth to fourth from year to year. And the one that lost the most ground was Continental. It went from eighth to 11th. But the others were one or two positions from where they were a year before."

Sound bite #4
Headley says future improvement in airline performance depends a great deal on infrastructure. The sound bite is 16 seconds and the outcue is "and the passengers better."

Headley: "We hope that the airlines can continue to improve, but it really depends on infrastructure — partly the number of landing slots and how big the airports are, but more than anything it has to do with whether or not we get an updated air traffic control system so they can handle the volume and the passengers better."

Sound bite #5
Headley says generally favorable weather contributed to the airlines' strong performance last year. The sound bite is 23 seconds and the outcue is "bad weather incident."

Headley: "This improvement over the last four years, and certainly this very good year, really is somewhat of a product of the fact that we didn't have any bad weather last year to speak of. When weather is introduced to this very tight system, 80, 90 percent full airplanes, you just don't have anywhere to put people that are out of positions so to speak when it comes to a bad weather incident."

# # # # #
Contact: Joe Kleinsasser, Wichita State University, (316) 204-8266 (cell), or Lainie Rusco, Wichita State University, (316) 978-3409 or lainie.rusco @wichita.edu.
Created on Apr 2, 2012 8:30 AM; Last modified on Apr 2, 2012 8:40 AM