Flights are more punctual than ever, but they take considerably longer than a few years ago.
Scheduled flights arrive more and more on time, but there is a trick, used by airlines to avoid having to admit – and discount – delays.
When you get on a plane, do you feel like you have to wait too long before you see it take off? Or waiting a long time before getting off after landing? It may not be just an impression given by the inconvenience of travel. The New York Times writes that these taxiing times – which in English are called taxi time – have increased considerably in recent years, which is why the total journey times have considerably lengthened.
The article in the US daily newspaper is based on a series of data, including those from the Airline for America, the largest trade association of US airlines. From 1990 to 2018, the taxi time increased by 19% in the largest airports and by 24% in medium-sized hubs. As an example: if a few years ago at the Tacoma International Airport in Seattle the planes spent an average of 9 minutes on the runway before taking off or receiving authorization from the control tower to head for a gate, today this figure is almost tripled to 26 minutes.
The main reason why this happens is the constant increase in passengers and flights
Obviously, the more flights a company makes, the more it earns; if instead the flight remains on the ground, the situation as is evident becomes complicated. Moreover, since 1987, every airline has to tell what time the flight arrived at its destination and what were the causes of the delay, in the event that it has exceeded 15 minutes; if a domestic flight is delayed more than three hours or an international flight arrives four hours later than expected, the company must pay a penalty: for all these reasons, the companies have circumvented the problem, lengthening the journey times so as to make all the flights on time.
Does it work?
In some cases, this strategy can be effective. As Mark Hansen, professor and director of the National Center of Excellence in Aviation Research (Aviation Operation Research) points out, the duration of a flight is based on forecasts – often based on optimal conditions, such as good weather conditions. – but it is very variable. If a company expands it, it protects itself from any unforeseen circumstances. However, this practice can result in a general increase in costs: longer flight times mean higher salaries for on-board staff and greater fuel costs, among other things.
Moreover, all this can cause delays: in fact, it can happen that a flight for which the company has foreseen a longer duration arrives in advance and the pilot must wait a few minutes on the track before heading to the gate for the landing, because the latter is occupied by another plane.
According to a study – among which authors also include Hansen – the air delays weigh 32 billion dollars on the American economy. About 8.3 of these are attributable to the airlines, and half of these to flights for which a longer duration has been provided.
Why private jet charter saves you a lot of time
Indeed, with private jet charter you can use smaller private jet airports, which are 10 times more numerous than airports for airliners. Anyways, even when you use the latter, you can most of the times takeoff and land on shorter tracks that are exclusively for private jets. So no taxing time, no boarding time, no delay whatsoever. Do your math, and find out whether private jet charter is profitable for your next flight.