Believe it or not, US Airways is now a lot better with on-time performance, even better than all of the other airlines (and this is hard to believe if you live in Philly, one of their hubs). Apparently they are doing this with some good old basic process improvement techniques. For example:
– They have created a “rallying cry” to emphasize the importance of on-time performance.
– They support their rallying cry with financial incentives when goals are met.
– They have installed electronic displays for the baggage handlers so that they can monitor flight status and prioritize effort. A good example of providing workers with the necessary information needed to achieve a goal.
– They have runners that move bags between connecting flights when necessary. This can be controversial. On the one hand it creates another process, which adds to variability. On the other hand, it prioritizes service where most needed.
– Buffer times has been added to schedules. And instead of doing this haphazardly, they appear to be adding buffers where buffers are most needed – on routes that experience the most uncertainty. This makes for a more efficient use of buffers.
To summarize, they are applying behavioral techniques (goals, incentives) and process changes to demonstrate that good on-time performance can be achieved by anyone.
Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2008 – How US Airways Vaulted to First Place