American Airlines dramatically improved its on-time performance in February, results that earned each of the carrier's 85,000 employees a $50 bonus.
Fort Worth-based American finished second among 14 large U.S. airlines in on-time performance, with 80.5 percent of flights arriving on time, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
It was a substantial improvement from January, when American limped in at No. 9, with just 69 percent of flights on time. And it's up from February 2004, when about 75 percent of American's flights were on time and the airline ranked ninth.
"People are pretty happy about it," said Laura Burris, an airline spokeswoman.
It was American's highest rank in more than a year. The closest the airline had previously come was in September 2004, when American finished third.
American executives credited several new programs that are designed to smooth operations and get flights in and out of airports on time. One, in place at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, focuses on critical early-morning flights that, if late, can cause delays across the country.
That program posted its best results in February, with more than 88 percent of critical D/FW flights leaving on time.
Employees will receive a $50 bonus under a program implemented in 2003, in the wake of the airline's bitter concessions battle. Workers can receive monthly payments if American exceeds certain operational and customer service goals.
Last year, workers received $50 in September for finishing third in on-time performance, and $25 in October and November for fifth- and sixth-place rankings.
A total of $200 in performance bonuses was awarded to each employee in 2004.
The February bonus will cost American more than $4 million.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines finished fourth for the month, with 79.9 percent of flights on time.
Stock in AMR Corp., American's parent, (ticker: AMR) closed at $10.89 per share Wednesday, down 26 cents. Southwest shares (ticker: LUV) finished at $14.22 per share, down 8 cents.