The increasing utilization of aircraft on overnight flight operations is having a significant impact on schedule reliability and on-time departure performance, according to a study by data and analytics provider, masFlight.

The study showed that U.S. carriers operating night flights had an average departure delay seven minutes higher on morning flights than those overnighting at the airport. The lack of reset opportunities between night and morning flights is a primary factor for the delays.

Illustrating the correlation between daily utilization and on-time departure performance, masFlight reviewed domestic and international flight operations for a number of U.S. carriers. Spirit Airlines fared the worst. With a 12.1 hours daily utilization of its fleet, the low-fare operator’s on-time departure was 72.7% in January 2013. Spirit’s average departure delay is almost 16 minutes.

Presenting the results at Aviation Week’s MRO Americas conference in Atlanta, Josh Marks, CEO of masFlight said, “Increasing utilization through red-eye flying isn’t free.” Marks points out that carriers taking away overnight reset opportunities need to assess the revenue benefit and impact on the operation. “Aggressive overnight flying has a measurable cost on the operation, carrying delays from one day to the next.”