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    JetBlue Slips To #2 In Annual "Air Quality Rating" Compiled By Midwest Academics

    (April 2, 2007) -- JetBlue Airways slipped to number two -- after three years ranked as number one -- in annual "Airline Quality Rating" (AQR) produced by Brent Bowen, Director/Professor at the University of Nebraska/Omaha Aviation Institute/School of Public Administration, and Dean Headley, Assoc. Professor/Marketing at Wichita State University (WSU).

    The researchers ranked Hawaiian Airlines number one in 2006.

    In a reference that may resonate with LB residents affected by late night flights, the pair's AQR said JetBlue's on-time performance in 2006 was the second lowest of the 18 airlines rated, although it credited JetBlue with having improved (72.9% in 2006 compared to 71.4% in 2005).

    The AQR says it uses data drawn from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's monthly Air Travel Consumer Report.. The 2007 AQR released today (April 2) said in part:

    Jet Blue Airlines was included in the AQR for the first time in 2003. On-time performance in 2006 improved (72.9% in 2006 compared to 71.4% in 2005) and was the second lowest of the 18 airlines rated. Jet Blue’s denied boarding performance (0.07 per 10,000 passengers in 2006) is the lowest of the airlines rated. A customer complaint rate of 0.40 complaints per 100,000 passengers in 2006 (compared to 0.29 in 2005) was third best (to Southwest and Frontier) of all airlines rated. Their mishandled baggage rate of 4.09 per 1,000 passengers in 2006 was virtually unchanged from their 2005 rate (4.06) and was second best of all airlines rated in 2006.

    The AQR included Hawaiian for the first time in 2006. "On-time performance (93.8%) is the best of all airlines rated for 2006. Hawaiian’s denied boarding performance (0.13 per 10,000 passengers) was the third best of the airlines rated and compares very favorably to the industry average of 1.01. A customer complaint rate of 0.64 complaints per 100,000 passengers also compares well to the industry average of 0.88 in 2006. Their mishandled baggage rate of 3.14 per 1,000 passengers (best of all rated) is well below the industry rate of 6.50 bags per 1,000 passengers. Overall, Hawaiian entered the AQR ratings with the best AQR score of any airline rated this year."

    The two researchers said the overall AQR industry score "shows an industry that has declined in quality relative to customer performance criteria over the course of 2006...The overall industry AQR score was lower in 2006 than in 2005, with decreased industry performance in three of the four areas tracked."

    However, it noted that five airlines "improved their denied boardings rate in 2006" and credited JetBlue and Air Tran as "clearly the industry leaders in avoiding denied boarding incidents."

    [update] Responding to the AQR report, the Air Transport Association (the airline industry's trade association) said via its President/CEO James May that the AQR study "once again focuses on the symptoms rather than the root causes of passenger and airline frustrations. The vast majority of customer service issues arise from weather and congestion flight delays that lead to misconnected flights, lost luggage and related complaints. These delays are inextricably linked with the government’s outdated and inefficient air traffic control system."

    The AQR scores for the 18 largest airlines for 2006 resulted in the following ranking:

    1) Hawaiian
    2) Jet Blue
    3) Air Tran
    4) Frontier
    5) Northwest
    6) Southwest
    7) Continental
    8) United
    9) Alaska
    10) American
    11) ATA
    12) Delta
    13) US Air
    14) SkyWest
    15) Mesa
    16) COMAIR
    17) American Eagle
    18) Atlantic Southeast

    The AQR report includes this self-description:

    The Airline Quality Rating 2007 is a summary of month-by-month quality ratings for U.S. airlines that have at least 1% of domestic scheduled-service passenger revenue during 2006. Using the Airline Quality Rating system of weighted averages and monthly performance data in the areas of on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled baggage, and a combination of 12 customer complaint categories, airlines’ comparative performance for the calendar year of 2006 is reported. This research monograph contains a brief summary of the AQR methodology, detailed data and charts that track comparative quality for domestic airline operations for the 12-month period of 2006, and industry results. Also, comparative Airline Quality Rating data for 2005 are included, where available, to provide historical perspective regarding performance quality in the industry...

    The majority of quality ratings available in the past have relied on subjective surveys of consumer opinion that were infrequently collected. This subjective approach yields a quality rating that is essentially non-comparable from survey to survey for any specific airline. Timeliness of survey-based results can be a problem in the fast-paced airline industry as well. Before the Airline Quality Rating, there was effectively no consistent method for monitoring the quality of airlines on a timely, objective, and comparable basis. With the introduction of the AQR, a multi-factor, weighted average approach became available that had not been used before in the airline industry. The method relies on utilizing published, publicly available data that reports actual airline performance on critical quality criteria important to consumers and combines them into a rating system. The final result is a rating for individual airlines with interval scale properties that is comparable across airlines and across time periods.

    The Airline Quality Rating (AQR) is a weighted average of multiple elements...important to consumers when judging the quality of airline services. Elements considered for inclusion in the rating scale were screened to meet two basic criteria; 1) an element must be obtainable from published data sources for each airline; and 2) an element must have relevance to consumer concerns regarding airline quality. Data for the elements used in calculating the ratings represent performance aspects (on-time arrival, mishandled baggage, involuntary denied boardings, and 12 customer complaint areas) of airlines that are important to consumers. All of the elements are reported in the Air Travel Consumer Report maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    To view the entire 2007 AQR report, click here

    As previously reported by, in October 2006 JetBlue was named "Best Domestic Airline" for the fifth year in a row in the Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards. Its results were derived from an independent poll of consumers' preferences (the Readers' Choice Survey, second in size only to the U.S. Census).

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