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August Flight Operations Edge up for Some Airlines, Down for Others

In August, U.S. airlines extended their recent streak of increasing the number of domestic flights operated overall. The more than 394,000 flights in August represent a 7% jump from July, the third consecutive month of increased activity. Those flights were supported by a similar rise in the number of flights scheduled by the airlines, offset by a 1.1% flight cancellation rate. However, the overall story gets more complicated when we break it down by individual airline.

Increases and decreases in scheduled flights varied widely by carrier in August

While the number of flights scheduled overall in August increased by 7.4%, the chart below shows that the experience of individual airlines varied widely. Alaska, Delta, and United scheduled 18%, 28%, and 24% more flights in August than in July. American (down less than 1%) and Southwest (up 3%) stayed close to the number of flights they had scheduled in the previous month. And scheduled flights decreased for Allegiant (-17%), Frontier (-6%), Hawaiian (-11%), JetBlue (-25%), and Spirit (-28%). As a result of the August changes, Allegiant operated 96% of the number of flights that it operated one year earlier in August.  That came after the airline operated only 958 flights in April 2020, the lowest monthly total of any marketing carrier this year. In contrast, JetBlue operated 30% of its August 2019 total and Hawaiian, with a 9% cancellation rate, operated 33%.

Note: airlines can remove a scheduled flight from its schedule up until 7 days in advance of its planned departure; within 7 days of scheduled departure time, any flight removal is a canceled flight.


Canceled flights increased in August from July, but remain low

August brought air travelers another month with a low number of canceled flights (4,327). Although that's a significant increase over July's 2,926 cancellations, it's far below August 2019's 12,903. And, the  cancellation rate for August, 1.1%, is still lower than the rate for August 2019 (1.8%).

NOTE: a flight is listed as canceled if it was in a carrier's computer reservation system during the seven calendar days prior to scheduled departure but was not operated. 

Explore the data

You can view and download an Excel workbook of flights operated, flights scheduled, flights canceled for "All Carriers" and for individual marketing carriers.

Updated: Friday, November 13, 2020