Flying kangaroo bounds into first place for on-time performance in October

Qantas has pulled off a stunning turnaround with the best on-time performance of any major domestic airline in October.

The flying kangaroo also went from being the worst-performing airline in the country for cancellations to being the best.

However, Qantas-owned subsidiary Jetstar had another shocker of a month after it was revealed to be the worst airline for delays and second worst for cancellations.

Pre-COVID on-time performance data across all airlines was nudging 90 per cent. Now it’s hovering in the high 60s; plenty of room for improvement, especially with the Christmas holidays approaching.

The numbers

New data shows that 74.2 per cent of Qantas and QantasLink flights arrived on time in September, overtaking Virgin and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (which operates out of Perth).

It’s quite the comeback given that earlier in the year, Qantas fell out of the top five rankings for the world’s best airlines amid a massive wave of customer dissatisfaction.

In August, airline boss Alan Joyce apologised to customers and assured the public the national carrier was “working hard to get back to our best”.

BITRE data released this week by the Department of Transport showed on-time performance across all major airlines averaged 69.3 per cent for on-time arrivals and 68.5 per cent for on-time departures.

This month the rate of cancellations was 2.9 per cent, that’s higher than the long-term average of 2.1 per cent.

Jetstar had the worst on-time performance in October, with just 61 per cent of its flights departing on time.

The budget airline’s domestic on-time performance did increase by more than four points, and its cancellation rate decreased by nearly six points.

A Jetstar spokesperson told The New Daily that while their on-time performance had improved, the airline still had work to do to improve on its performance.

“We’re almost back to pre-COVID levels, but we know there is more work to be done,” the spokesperson said.

“We remain focused on strengthening our operations further ahead of the year-end peak by continuing to invest in staff and resources to ensure we provide our customers a smooth and enjoyable experience.”

Professor Rico Merkert, chair in transport and supply chain management at the University of Sydney, told TND that airlines were not wholly to blame for poor on-time performance.

A combination of issues with ground operations and poor weather at regional airports likely affected performance across the industry, he said.

“There still quite a lot of room for improvement,” Professor Merkert said.

“During Christmas, there will likely be the usual season hiccups with demand going up … So I’d be surprised if December was a super good month in terms of performance.”

Earlier this month, Intrepid Travel’s chief commercial officer, Brett Mitchell, told TND he thought there would be fewer delays this holiday season.

“Clearly, holidays are always a tricky time to travel, so if you can avoid travelling at that time, maybe you should,” Mr Mitchell said.

“But I do think this holiday season will be better than the last one – I expect it will be a vast improvement as far as delays.”

Mr Mitchell advises travellers to plan ahead and to “get in the right frame of mind” before flying.

“There’s always hiccups but plan ahead, track your flights, get travel insurance … and be patient.”

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