Rex, Qantas and Virgin top on-time honours for December

Australia's domestic carriers at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Regional Express (Rex), Qantas and Virgin Australia were among the most punctual domestic airlines in December, government statistics show.

Qantas had the highest percentage of on-time arrivals in December, with 88.6 per cent of its domestic flights reaching their destination within 15 minutes of schedule.

The figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed Virgin Australia was next best at 88.3 per cent, followed by Rex (88 per cent), Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (86.8 per cent) and QantasLink (86.2 per cent).

Meanwhile, Rex was the best airline for punctual departures in the month, with 90.3 per cent of the regional carrier’s flights pushing back on time, ahead of Virgin at 89 per cent. Qantas (88.4 per cent), Virgin Australia Regional (86.7 per cent) and QantasLink (86.2 per cent) were close behind.

The battle for on-time honours has been a see-sawing battle between Qantas and Virgin, with the two carriers swapping the lead on several occasions over the past couple of years. Both airlines have placed a strong emphasis on punctuality in an effort to attract and retain customers, particularly those in the more lucrative corporate and government travel sector.

The BITRE report said the combined Virgin/Virgin Regional network had 88.1 per cent of flights arrive on time, while the Qantas/QantasLink network achieved a 87.4 per cent on time arrival rate.

The Virgin/Virgin Regional network was also best of on-time departures at 88.6 per cent, ahead of the Qantas/QantasLink network on 87.4 per cent.

And among the low-cost carriers, Tigerair was best for on-time departures at 81.9 per cent, well ahead of Jetstar which dipped to 63.2 per cent in December. Tigerair was also significantly in front of Jetstar for arrivals at 82.3 per cent compared with 68 per cent.

Jetstar’s on-time arrivals and departures declined for the fourth straight month in December.

Among the specific routes the BITRE report publishes statistics for, Perth-Darwin had the highest percentage of on-time arrivals at 98.6 per cent and on-time departures at 98.6 per cent.

And for Australia’s busiest air route between Sydney and Melbourne, 78.9 per cent of flights arrived in the NSW capital on time, while 79.4 per cent of flights reached Tullamarine within 15 minutes of schedule.

Two West Australian Airports were the most punctual in the country in December – Newman (97.3 per cent on-time arrivals) and Kalgoorlie (95.6 per cent on-time departures).

On-time arrivals for December (figure in brackets indicates percentage point change from previous month)
Qantas 88.6% (+1.2)
Virgin 88.3% (+1.1)
Rex 88.0% (+5.6)
Virgin Australia Regional 86.8% (+2.1)
QantasLink 86.2% (+1.9)
Tigerair 82.3% (+0.8)
Jetstar 68.0% (-4.5)

Virgin network 88.1% (+1.6)
Qantas network 87.4% (+2.6)

On-time departures for December (figure in brackets indicates change from previous month)
Rex 90.3% (+4.2)
Virgin 89.0% (no change)
Qantas 88.4% (+1.3)
Virgin Australia Regional 86.7% (+2.4)
QantasLink 86.2% (+1.0)
Tigerair 81.9% (-1.0)
Jetstar 63.2% (-6.1)

Virgin network 88.6% (+0.4)
Qantas network 87.3% (+1.2)

(Source: BITRE)


  1. Ben says

    I do a lot of Regional turboprop flying (Rex, QFlink and Virgin Regional) I’m not surprised Rex take the lead with this. I fly with them about twice a month out of Sydney for the past 3 years. I’ve only ever had one delay with them and that was weather related. They always leave bang on time, if not a few minutes early. Usually always arrive early too. I think they’re fairly conservative with their schedules. If they are delayed departing Sydney (ie: taxiway hold for 10-15 minutes due to congestion then they seem to still arrive on time) If they leave without delay, they often arrive 10-15 minutes early. Qantas (or specifically Qantaslink in my experience) seem to be a lot tighter in their schedules – Especially with having the Dash 8 parked to the North East of the QF terminal in Sydney. The Qantas terminal area in Sydney is very congested and you’re quite often delayed in the terminal area, waiting your turn to get out, let alone the quite often long taxi out to the third runway. Also I’ve taxied out in a Dash 8 on several occasions, got to the end of the runway and had to come all the way back due to technical issues. I’m not being critical of QF – I’d rather be safe and late than on time and dead. However this has never happened with Virgin or Rex (We’re comparing similar aircraft here, Saab 340, Dash 8 and ATR) If anything I would think Rex would have a lot of tech issues as some of their Saabs are a bit long in the tooth – However I’ve never had a single tech delay with them and always felt as safe on them as QF or VA. I know Qantas has a good safety record but so does Rex and Virgin. Maybe the Qantas pilots and engineers are overly conservative. Although I can’t imagine a Virgin or Rex pilot not being equally conservative – The safety records of all three airlines speak for themselves. At the end of the day the on-time performances are pretty similar.