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Diving into Airline Operational KPIs

How airlines measure their success pertaining to on-time performance (OTP).

A United 757 departing from Washington Dulles (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Peter Weiland)

In the dynamic and ever-evolving airline industry, on-time performance (OTP) plays a key role in determining success, especially during major holiday periods. Recent post-COVID airline operational meltdowns have placed heightened scrutiny on carriers from both regulators and consumers alike.

To measure day-to-day operations, many airlines rely on a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can provide some valuable insight. Among these critical metrics are D0, A14, and CF, each playing a different role in measuring the overall health of a carrier’s operation.

D0: On-Time Departures

D0, or departure on-time performance, is a fundamental measure of airline efficiency. It indicates the percentage of flights that depart on or before the scheduled departure time.

A high D0 metric reflects an airline’s ability to consistently get passengers on their way promptly, therefore minimizing delays at the point of origin. Airlines generally aim to maintain a D0 figure above 80%, though weather and other challenges can make this number vary widely.

This metric is often measured beginning when the aircraft’s parking brake is released at the gate. Of course, that can create a less-than-perfect measurement when taxi out delays, etc. extend the time between leaving the gate and the ground.

A14: Arrival On-Time Performance

A14, which measures the on-time performance of arrivals, complements D0 by providing a view of an airline’s punctuality. It measures the percentage of flights that arrive within 14 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.

A JetBlue Airways Airbus A220 prepares for landing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
(Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

While D0 focuses on the actual departure, A14 takes into account the entire journey, encompassing factors such as airspace congestion and weather conditions. There’s broader totality in this metric.

CF: Completion Factor

CF, or completion factor, represents the percentage of flights that are completed without cancellation or diversion. A high CF metric indicates that an airline consistently delivers passengers to their destinations as planned, minimizing disruptions.

Airlines strive to maintain a near 100% completion factor, which means no cancellations or diversions occurred.

The Synergy of D0, A14, and CF

D0, A14, and CF work in unison to provide a holistic picture of an airline’s operational efficiency. A high D0 percentage sets the stage for timely departures, while a high A14 metric confirms the successful execution of the entire journey. CF ensures the effective completion of overall flight operations.

Leveraging Operational Metrics for Success

Airline operational metrics are not merely numbers; they are the building blocks of a strong operation. By tracking and analyzing these metrics, carriers are able to gain valuable insights into their performance, enabling them to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions.

It is important to note that not all of these metrics are reported equally across the board, and some airlines even have other internal KPIs to measure operational efficiency. Of course, these are just operational measures; airlines have other KPIs for the commercial side, such as RASM, CASM, etc.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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