ATLANTA--American Airlines has invested more than $25 billion in its fleet, operation and staff over the last five years and has completed the bulk of integrating US Airways into its operation. It now is focused on “running the most reliable operation in our post-merger history, pursuing high margin growth opportunities at our most profitable hubs, and executing on a number of valuable revenue and cost saving initiatives,” said CEO Doug Parker in announcing the 2018 annual results in January.
Reliable operations depend in part on meeting performance goals—something the airline did not do last year. One change for 2019: the Tech Ops team is acutely focused on aircraft availability for the first flights of the day, departing on schedule, turning the aircraft on time, and reaching a 99.6% controllable completion factor over the course of the year, said Kevin Brickner, American Airlines’ senior vice president tech ops.
One big target area is peak flying days, which previously were not weighted heavier than others. Brickner said American found that 27% of the calendar days contribute 60% of pre-tax income. While those days are good for profits, “they also represent operational challenges, and we haven’t done enough to set the airline up to operate reliably during the peaks,” he told attendees at the recent Aviation Week MRO Americas Conference.
As part of an effort to increase aircraft availability and enhance its maintenance planning, American reviewed and adjusted its pre-peak scheduling—trying to avoid having aircraft out for maintenance during the peak summer days. It also focused on improving management of out of service aircraft, put more focus on inventory planning and increased non-hub maintenance utilization.
“There’s lots of change management,” said Brickner.
While it’s important to get the reliability up, American has also been focusing on its frontline team members—the ones most responsible for meeting the airline's performance goals.
“When the schedule is off, its stresses our system and crews” too, Brickner said.