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AIRLINES: Best statistics for domestic airlines ‘on-time arrival’

AIRLINES: Best statistics for domestic airlines ‘on-time arrival’

Australian Airline domestic services are the best they have been since before COVID-19 and on time arrivals re matching that performance.

In March 2024, 77% of domestic flights arrived ‘on time’ compared to 71% the month before, according to statistics release by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics [BITRE].

These figures are still well below the historical average of 81% of flights arriving within 15 minutes of their scheduled time.

‘A flight arrival is counted as “on time” if it arrived at the gate before 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival time shown in the carriers’ schedule. Neither diverted nor cancelled flights count as on time. Similarly, a flight departure is counted as “on time” if it departs the gate before 15 minutes after the scheduled departure time shown in the carriers’ schedule.’


Everything from weather, staff shortages, lack of engineering resources, air traffic controllers absences and a lack of operating aircraft have affected on-time arrival, departure and cancellation statistics post-pandemic.

As recently as November 2023, Virgin Australia delayed or cancelled nearly half of its domestic flights.

Qantas aircraft at Melbourne Airport
Qantas aircraft at Melbourne Airport, 2023 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

On-time arrival Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia

Qantas and QantasLink regional flights arrived on time in 77.3% of the time. Qantas Group member Jetstar performed with 80.9% of flights on time.

Virgin Australia gets the ‘most improved’ Koala stamp, however, for on-time arrival since it has moved from 54.3% in November 2023 to a 75.1% figure in March 2024.

a plane parked on a runway
Virgin Australia B737s at Melbourne Airport viewed from the lounge. [Schuetz/2PAXfly]


BITRE reports that cancellations in March were down to 2.8%, which is still larger than the historic average of 2.2%. Qantas blamed the WA pilots strike as responsible for 40% of its worse than average performance at 3.8%. That compared to 2.2% fo the rest of the network.

Interestingly, on Australia’s busiest and most profitable route between Australia’s largest capital cities (ie Melbourne/Sydney), cancellation rates range from 6.6% for Qantas to 7.4% for Virgin Australia. That’s more than double the rate on most other domestic routes.

On the good news front, QantasLink cancellations on the Sydney/Canberra route fell from 14.8% to 2.5%.

That should keep Qantas sweet with its political masters!

On-time customer anger

All of those delays and cancellations have engendered significant customer dissatisfaction, resulting in a massive increase in complaints to consumer authorities about airlines behaviour. Arguable, that anger forced ex CEO Alan Joyce to grab his parachute and exit the airline months earlier than scheduled.

2PAXfly Takeout

Australian airlines seem to be ‘Heading in the right direction’ in the words of the late Renee Gayer, in their on-time performance.

The industry has faced multiple challenges on this front. This year, Qantas and others were threatened with pilots and firefighters’ strikes, which mostly didn’t eventuate. Airservices Australia, the firefighters’ employer, has reached an in-principle agreement covering pay and conditions.

New Qantas CEO Virginia Hudson has called in the consultants to solve the problem. Call me naïve but if the airline with all its industry knowledge can’t solve the problem, then how are McKinsey and BCG going to do that?

Or, maybe the new ‘Boarding by Groups‘ might help in the on-time departure statistics.

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