The Delta Air Lines operational machine keeps rolling

Delta has logged 95 days this year without a single mainline cancelation. Photo: Delta Air Lines.

Delta has logged 95 days this year without a single mainline cancelation. Photo: Delta Air Lines.

Are you tired of reading stories about Delta's operational excellence?

I don't blame you if you are. But Delta is proud of its performance, and it's been doing some back-patting recently. I'm OK with that because Delta's reliability has been extraordinary. No large competitor comes close to matching it.

On Tuesday, Delta said it had already logged 95 days this year without a single cancelation, whether for maintenance or weather-related reasons. This is only for Delta's mainline jets, so Delta Connection flights are not included.

The 95 perfect days ties Delta's all-time annual record, which the airline set in 2014. 

"At nearly four months ahead of last year’s pace, I can’t wait to see what the completion factor record for 2015 will be,” Gil West, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a blog post. 

In the post, Delta said no airline has ever completed every scheduled flight on 100 days in one year. But the airline predicted it will cross the 100-day threshold next month.

How many flights does Delta have per day? In September, it will operate about 2,800 daily flights, slightly fewer than during its busy summer schedule. 

Completion factor is different than on-time performance, but among the largest airlines, Delta is also the most punctual. About 84% of Delta's flights in July landed within 14 minutes of their scheduled arrival time, a common industry metric. 

Running the nation's most reliable airline is important to Delta CEO Richard Anderson. Here's what he said on the airline's July 15 second quarter earnings call:

"We continue to run the industry's best operation by far. In the June quarter, we delivered 99.8% completion factor including 43 days with zero mainline cancelations. Our mainline on time rate improved two points to 85.3. None of our global or national competitors are even close to this level of performance."


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