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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Airlines operate more flights in June; on-time performance hits a high

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

After previously setting new lows in flights operated for two months running, U.S. airlines were unlikely to set another record low in June, and they didn’t. Instead, in the month of June, airlines operated 236,234 flights. While that’s still 65% fewer flights than they operated in June 2019, it’s a considerable 31% jump over May of this year.

Fewer flights meant a record on-time arrival performance, 92.7%, and a cancellation percentage of less than ½ of a percent. Unlike in previous months, airlines reduced schedules well in advance elimination the need for large numbers of cancellations which take place within seven days of scheduled flight time.

More scheduled flights, fewer cancellations lead to June increase in flights operated

The jump in the number of flights operated in June compared with May was driven by a 23% increase in the number of flights (237,264) the airlines scheduled in June. That still leaves the number of flights scheduled far below June 2019’s 694,469.

On-time performance notches new record

In June 2020, airlines reported an on-time arrival rate of 92.7%. As shown in the chart below, that is the highest performance-percentage in DOT records dating from 1995 and a significant increase from the 73.3% on-time rate in June 2019. A relatively low number of scheduled flights like the number scheduled in June means a less crowded national airspace and airport runways and air traffic control towers operating below capacity; many flights in June also operated with lower passenger occupancy rates, facilitating a smoother boarding process. These factors can contribute to on-time performance.

Fewer flights canceled

Throughout March, April, and May, airlines worked to realign their flight schedules to match the impact of COVID-19 on demand for air travel. In June, that effort paid dividends for those passengers with tickets on scheduled flights. The 1,030 flights that were canceled in June represent 0.4% of all scheduled flights. That’s compared to the 2.1% of flights canceled in June 2019 and an even bigger change from the 6.4% of flights canceled in May of this year.

Explore the data

You can view and download the Excel table of flights operated, flights scheduled, flights canceled, and the cancellation rate for "All Carriers" and for individual carriers.