How Delta will pay cash to corporate customers if it is late too often

Earlier this month I wrote about how Delta Air Lines will pay cash to corporate customers if the airline's on-time performance lags behind American Airlines and United Airlines.  Delta wants lucrative business travelers to choose Delta because those customers will know they're more likely to make their meeting or return home on time if they fly the right airline. 

We learned more information about Delta's program today from Bloomberg News, which interviewed Bob Somers, vice present of global sales. Somers told Bloomberg that Delta is betting its on-time rating makes the airline unique. 

"We’ve been focused on relentless operational success, because any carrier could replicate anything we do, whether it be seats or food or Sky Clubs, but they can’t replicate our performance,” he told Bloomberg. [That's probably a dig at American and United, in case you were wondering.] 

As some of you guessed after my last post, Delta isn't risking much. Most experts think the airline will never have to make a payout to a corporate customer. Here's how Bloomberg describes the program:

If American and United beat Delta’s on-time and completion rates for a year, Delta would award travel credits of $1,000 to $250,000 to businesses with a contract. Those who suffer the most delays and cancellations get the biggest payouts.

There are enough caveats, however, that it’s unlikely Delta will have to pony up, said Barry Rogers, a corporate travel adviser in Eugene, Oregon, with TCG Consulting.

By measuring on-time or cancellation rates over a full year, it can’t be held accountable for short-term hiccups. The offer also excludes international flights, the regional affiliates, which have spottier reliability records, and industry leaders Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. Delta also must trail both American and United - not one or the other - and United has been mostly stuck in the bottom half of U.S. carriers in recent years.

What do you think of Delta's promise? A good idea?