WSU Newsline: Airline performance in 2012 second best ever, according to AQR
Monday, April 8, 2013 8:31 AM

WSU Newsline: 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.

According to the 23nd annual national Airline Quality Rating (AQR), Virgin America is the best-performing airline of 2012. For the industry as a whole, it was the second best performance in the 23 years researchers have tracked the performance of airlines, topped only by airline performance in 2011.

The rating is conducted annually by researchers Dean Headley of Wichita State University and Brent Bowen of Purdue University. According to the 2013 Airline Quality Rating, Virgin America is first, followed by Jet Blue, AirTran, Delta and Hawaiian; the second five are Alaska, Frontier, Southwest, US Airways and American; and No. 11 is American Eagle followed by SkyWest, ExpressJet and United.

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 23rd annual Airline Quality Rating, Virgin America made quite a debut, finishing No. 1 for the 2012 calendar year. Dean Headley, co-author of the national Airline Quality Rating at Wichita State University, said for the second consecutive year, the airline industry performed well.

Headley: "In 2012, the airlines performed just slightly worse than they did in 2011, hardly noticeable, few hundredths of a point difference. So, we're looking at the second best year ever for airline performance."

Announcer: Following Virgin America in the rankings were JetBlue, AirTran, Delta and Hawaaian. Alaska was sixth, followed by Frontier, Southwest, US Airways and American. No. 11 is American Eagle, with SkyWest, ExpressJet and United filling the bottom three spots. The Airline Quality Rating ranked the 14 largest U.S. airlines in on-time arrivals, baggage handling, denied boardings and customer complaints. The airlines improved slightly in on-time performance and baggage handling, but declined slightly in involuntary denied boardings and consumer complaints. For all the details, go to airlinequalityrating.com.

Sound bite #1

Headley shares who is at the top of the Airline Quality Rating. The sound bite is 13 seconds and the outcue is "this year."

Headley: "This year we have a new No. 1 airline, and that's Virgin America. And it's actually the first time in the ratings system for us. They've come on the radar. Typically that has been for the last five or six years it's either been Hawaiian or AirTran as the No. 1, but Virgin America beat them out this year." 

Sound bite #2

Headley says there were some notable changes in the rankings. The sound bite is 23 seconds and the outcue is "in the rankings."

Headley: "When you look at the actual AQR scores, we can see that American Eagle is the most improved airline. Their rating numbers show that, as well as the ranking. They went from 15 to 11. Others that kind of went the right direction were Delta. They did very well. They moved up in the rankings. But Hawaiian went the other direction. They went from second to fifth in the rankings." 

Sound bite #3

Headley explains how the airlines did in on-time performance. The sound bite is 16 seconds and the outcue is "that bad off."

Headley: "On-time performance for the industry was actually better this year, about 82 percent as opposed to 80 percent in 2011. And about eight of the airlines actually improved their on-time performance. The worst of the batch were around 77 percent, so even at that we aren't really that bad off."

Sound bite #4

Headley talks about how the industry did with involuntary denied boardings. The sound bite is 20 seconds and the outcue is "denied boardings."

Headley: "Involuntary denied boardings is an area where the airline industry actually got worse. With fewer seats and more people demanding those seats you'd expect some hiccups, if you would, in the availability of seats. And that actually went from like .8 to almost 1.0, so it's a noticeable increase in the number of denied boardings."

Sound bite #5

Headley says the airline industry did a good job overall of handling bags. The sound bite is 14 seconds and the outcue is "right direction."

Headley: "From a customer's perspective, I guess mishandled bags is one you look at a lot, and that actually got a little bit better, just slightly, about three tenths of a point better in baggage handling, mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers. So the industry is at least paying attention and going in the right direction."

Sound bite #6

Headley says there was an increase in customer complaints last year. The sound bite is 14 seconds and the outcue is "per 100,000 passengers."

Headley: "As you might guess with higher demand more things go wrong, so customer complaints got worse this year, noticeably worse, from about 1.2 to 1.4 complaints per 100,000 passengers." 

Sound bite #7

Headley looks at some of the things customers were complaining about. The sound bite is 29 seconds and the outcue is "in the system."

Headley: "The complaints typically are primarily, about a third of them, are for things called flight problems, schedule changes, cancellations, delays, hiccups if you would in the planning of a consumers travel, followed by reservations, ticketing and boarding which is the process of getting a ticket and executing. And then the third biggest area is customer complaints other than what we can capture elsewhere, so there are still some things not working well in the system."

Sound bite #8

Headley says we're nearing the end of airline mergers. The sound bite is 23 seconds and the outcue is "how well they're going."

Headley: "Since the early 2000s or so, in the last 10 or 12 years, we've had kind of the age of mergers, if you would. And we'll still see a couple more, American and USAir still to execute and Southwest and AirTran still to execute all that, but generally speaking this is probably near the end. We don't have that many more to merge, and we're still trying to figure out exactly how well they're going."

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Contact: Joe Kleinsasser, Wichita State University, (316) 204-8266 (cell), Lainie Rusco, Wichita State University, (316) 978-3409 or lainie.rusco@wichita.edu, or Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, (765) 237-7296 (cell), or jschenke@purdue.edu.
Created on Apr 8, 2013 8:31 AM; Last modified on Apr 8, 2013 10:52 AM