American Airlines has invested more than $25 billion in its fleet, operation and staff over the last five years and has completed the bulk of integrating US Airways into its operation.

It now is focused on “running the most reliable operation in our post-merger history, pursuing high margin growth opportunities at our most profitable hubs, and executing on a number of valuable revenue and cost saving initiatives,” CEO Doug Parker said in January when the Dallas/Fort-Worth-based carrier announced its 2018 annual results.

To run the most reliable operation, however, airlines need to meet performance goals, which American did not do in 2018. To correct this, the tech ops team is focused on aircraft availability for the first flights of the day, departing on schedule, turning the aircraft on time, and reaching a 99.6% controllable completion factor over the course of the year, American SVP-tech ops Kevin Bricker said.

One big target area is peak flying days, which previously were not weighted heavier than others. Brickner said American found that 27% of the calendar days contribute 60% of pre-tax income. While those days are good for profits, “they also represent operational challenges, and we haven’t done enough to set the airline up to operate reliably during the peaks,” he said.

To increase aircraft availability and enhance its maintenance planning, American reviewed and adjusted its pre-peak scheduling—trying to avoid having aircraft out for maintenance during the peak summer days. It also focused on improving management of out of service aircraft, put more focus on inventory planning and increased nonhub maintenance utilization. “There’s lots of change management,” Brickner added.

While it’s important to get the reliability up, American has also been focusing on its frontline team members.

“When the schedule is off, it stresses our system and crews too,” Brickner said at the 2019 MRO Americas Conference.

Lee Ann Shay, leeann.shay@aviationweek.com