Qantas has reclaimed the number one spot as the best performing airline in Australia. The airline bounced back from misfortune to lead the way in on-time domestic arrivals and departures in October, while reducing cancellations to just 2.2% of flights.
However, overall industry on-time performance (OTP) is average at best, lagging more than 10% behind long-term averages and 2021 levels. With the peak period of summer and holidays from next month, Australia’s airlines and airports will face their toughest post-COVID stress test with their ability to cope in the air.
There’s still a long way to go
As Easter weekend chaos engulfed Australian airlines, Qantas was in the depths of despair. Its CEO, Alan Joyce, was ridiculed for blaming passengers for the massive queues and delays at Sydney airport on being “out of shape” as the airline absolved itself of responsibility for failed travel plans.
Fast forward to today, and Qantas has learned to accept responsibility, admitted its mistakes and moved to the top of the rankings. Joyce has been front and center in that redemption and, with the support of a majority of the staff, has positioned the airline for an amazing post-COVID recovery.
Every month, the Australian Government Office of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) collects performance data from airlines. For this exercise, their mission is to “monitor the punctuality and reliability of major national airlines operating between Australian airports.” Contributing airlines are Jetstar, Qantas, Rex, Virgin Australia and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines.
In October, this group averaged 69.3% of arrivals and 68.5% of departures within fifteen minutes of their scheduled time, the accepted yardstick for punctuality, and also canceled 2.9% of flights. The long-term averages for those events are 81.8%, 82.9%, and 2.1%, respectively; in October 2021 they were 88%, 88.4% and 3.7%. It’s encouraging to see cancellations drop so low, but the OTP has a long way to go to reach levels most would consider normal for Australia.
Paradoxically, the Qantas Group airlines keep the best and worst OTP and cancellation statistics. At the top, Qantas produced 74.2% on-time arrivals (OTA), 73.9% departures (OTD) and 2.2% cancellations, compared to Jetstar at the other end of the scale with 64 .4%, 61.6% and 3.9%. respectively. Given its position as a low-cost leisure airline, Jetstar needs to quickly correct its cancellation rates or take over as the most obnoxious airline in the country this summer.
Virgin Australia has had a disappointing month, slipping down the rankings to be slightly ahead of Jetstar with 64.9% OTA, 63% OTD and 3.6% canceled flights. After launching your new brings wonderful campaign, this was not the start that Virgin Australia wanted to see. National and regional carrier Rex was around the monthly averages with OTPs of 68.3% and 70.5%, but matched Qantas with 2.2% cancellations. This was the first time since March that Rex has not topped the chart in on-time performance.
The main route is suffering
Rising steadily in the world’s busiest route rankings, the Sydney (SYD) to Melbourne (MEL) route has performed poorly on all three key performance metrics. For starters, Jetstar canceled 10.5% of its scheduled flights, and for all airlines, on average, more than a third of arrivals and departures were after 15 minutes.
Photo: Virgin Australia
This is Australia’s number one business and private travel route, so it was concerning to see a major carrier like Virgin Australia cancel 6.3% of its 731 scheduled flights and no more than half of its flights were arriving or they left on time. Qantas leads the SYD-MEL performance, with OTA at 74.9% and OTD at 74.8%, compared to Virgin Australia at 54.3% and 50.7%.
Do you think the system will cope with the December/January spikes or will it crash?
- IATA/ICAO code:
- Type of airline:
- Full Service Carrier
- Brisbane Airport, Melbourne Airport, Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport
- Foundation year:
- a world
- alan joyce
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