Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

The summer is often a mess.

At least, that is, for airlines.

The weather becomes supremely volatile, passengers boil over as their desperation to disappear on vacation increases and then there are the strikes, sometimes timed to create maximum pain.

This year, there's been an additional kink. The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, a plane which may have been put into service before it had really been put through its paces, has gone on far longer than many may have imagined.

At one point, Southwest Airlines was canceling 150 flights a week because of the MAX. It's decided that the earliest the plane might return is next year.

The airline had 34 of them in service, the most of any U.S. airline.

You might imagine, then, that it's been scrambling to maintain any sort of efficiency at all.

Yet I've just descended upon the latest on-time performance figures for July from aviation intelligence company OAG.

Some numbers were relatively predictable, others a touch surprising.

At the top were Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska. The former, though, only operated 8,328 flights, while the latter sent out 42,373.

What, though, of the four big U.S. airlines? 

As most may have conceived, Delta came ahead of the rest, at 80.4 percent. In total, Delta sent out 176,642 flights. 

Yet right behind it was Southwest. It managed to persuade its 122,527 flights to arrive on time 79.4 percent of the time.

Which surely surprised some of its passengers. 

I've heard many a grumbling this year from believers who are losing their faith in Southwest.

Could it be that the airline has taken advantage of the fact that it has a strong, committed workforce to deliver far more than many might have expected?

After all, American Airlines, which had 10 fewer MAX's in service and sometimes difficult employee relations, only managed 75 percent on-time arrival. While United, despite having 20 fewer MAX's, secured just a 73.6 percent arrival time.

In American's case, perhaps the result feels uplifting. At one point in June, the airline could only cajole 57.8 percent of its flights to leave on time

Yes, pilots can sometimes make up a little time in flight. Perhaps American's are really good at it. 

The airline is, though, still in dispute with its mechanics and things don't sound too friendly.

What of United, though? 

Some might point to the fact that it operates many flights out of hubs that are legendary for their congestive qualities. 

Flying out of Newark or Chicago's O'Hare is rarely a thrill.

Then again, Southwest flies out of Chicago Midway, which last week was named the worst airport in America, with unreliable departures named as one factor.

Many factors contribute to disrupting an airline's service.

Is it mere coincidence, though, that the two big airlines with the best reputation for customer service and employee relations -- yes, it's all relative -- somehow manage to get their planes to arrive on time more often?