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QantasLink the exception as Australian airlines suffer punctuality fall in May

written by | June 22, 2016
Australia's domestic carriers at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
Australia’s domestic carriers at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Australian domestic carriers bar QantasLink suffered a decline in punctuality in May, latest figures show.

The Qantas regional carrier was the only airline to record an improvement in on-time performance in May, with the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) monthly report showing 88.4 per cent of its flights departed within 15 minutes of schedule in the month, up from 88.1 per cent in April.

Meanwhile, QantasLink’s on-time arrivals rate was unchanged at 88 per cent in May. The airline was the best of the domestic regional operators, ahead of Regional Express (87 per cent) and Virgin Australia Regional (80.6 per cent).


Among the mainline domestic carriers, Virgin Australia topped the arrivals rankings for a third straight month, with 90.1 per cent of its flights arriving on time, ahead of Qantas on 89 per cent.

In terms of low-cost carriers, Tigerair remained ahead of its rival Jetstar.

The battle for passengers has led to a strong emphasis on punctuality for airlines in an effort to attract and retain customers, particularly those in the lucrative corporate and government travel sector.

The top Australian domestic route for on-time arrivals was from Melbourne Tullamarine to Hamilton Island (100 per cent), while the Canberra to Adelaide route topped the charts for on-time departures at 98.6 per cent.


Brisbane was the only capital city airport to feature in the top 10 for airport punctuality in the month, achieving on-time arrivals of 92.5 per cent and on-time departures of 92.3 per cent.

Although minor compared with the East Coast Low that struck in early June, airline operations in May were also impacted by some windy weather and fog across a number of airports.

For example, on May 27 Sydney Airport tweeted it was on single runway operations due to strong winds.

Meanwhile, Airservices advised in a May 3 tweet Perth and Brisbane airports were impacted by fog, while there were strong winds at Melbourne Tullamarine.

On-time arrivals for May (figure in brackets indicates percentage point change from previous month)
Virgin 90.1% (-2.0)
Qantas 89.0% (-1.8)
QantasLink 88.0% (0)
Rex 87.0% (-1.3)
Tigerair 86.3% (-3.3)
Jetstar 82.6% (-0.3)
Virgin Australia Regional 80.6% (-4.1)

Virgin network 89.7% (-2.1)
Qantas network 88.5% (-0.9)

On-time departures for May (figure in brackets indicates percentage point change from previous month)
Virgin 91.1% (-1.9)
Qantas 90.5% (-0.8)
Rex 89.5% (-1.9)
QantasLink 88.4% (+0.3)
Tigerair 87.5% (-3.1)
Virgin Australia Regional 85.6% (-2.6)
Jetstar 79.3% (-0.4)

Virgin network 90.8% (-2.0)
Qantas network 89.4% (-0.2)

(Source: BITRE)

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  • Ben


    I was impacted by both the strong Westerly winds in SYD on 27 May and the East Coast low a week later. My flight was (with Rex) was actually cancelled due to East Coast low.

    However apart from the slight (and understandable) delay on 27 May and equally understandable cancellation the next week – I’m surprised Rex’s numbers aren’t higher. Apart from these last 2 trips and one other weather related delay a few years ago, I’ve literally never had any other delayed flights on Rex. They’ve always left right on time, or a few minutes early and usually always have arrived early (I’ve probably been on about 100 Rex flights over the past 4 years)

    Being a big regional frequent flyer – I’ve also flown Virgin Regional and Qantaslink roughly about 50/50 over the same 4 year period. Have had two or three delays with Virgin (tech related) and about same number with QFlink. In fact with Qantaslink on a few occasions have taxied the Dash 8 all the way out to the third runway at Sydney, only to discover a tech fault just prior to take off and then taxi all the back.

    So I would say that Rex would beat both Virgin and QFlink hands down on on time performance. Also despite the relative age of the Saab, compared to the ATR and Q400, I’ve never had a technical delay with Rex. Maybe the Saab is easier to maintain.

    Having said that, this has been my experience, but I suppose the stats above don’t lie.

  • Matt


    How long does it take to get it 100 per cent right? All these systems and protocols in place only to be arriving late or leaving late time and time again. The only reason a flight should be late or cancelled is due to natural or external factors. If all airlines followed their policies and protocols properly as well as airports too, these rates should be closer to 99 percent.
    The system is out of order. Staff should be sacked if they cannot do the job required to make every flight on time. If we are late for check in even by a minute we miss out no questions asked. Perhaps the sacking of management needs to be considered after all accountability is everything isn’t it?

  • Ben


    @ Matt – I agree with you re: better on time performance. Not sure if they’ll ever get it to 99 or 100 percent but it could probably be higher than what it is. I’m not sure you can avoid the occasional tech delay though. Aircraft are complicated machines and you can’t pull over into to breakdown lane at 37,000 feet if something goes wrong. Therefore if a problem is detected before departure, you will get some delays due to that. As planes get more reliable though the instances of tech delays should be diminishing.

    There might be one way of getting better on time performance: How often do you hear when waiting in transit, passengers being paged for not turning up to a flight? It seems to happen on just about every flight to some extent. If they don’t turn up the flight is then delayed – especially if they have checked baggage. One way to alleviate this would be to actually eliminate boarding announcements (I think they do this in Singapore) It makes for a much calmer/quieter terminal environment. Simply use the display screens to see the status of boarding. Then have it clearly printed on boarding pass if you are not at the gate x minutes before departure you will be offloaded. Then actually start the offloading process earlier if there is checked baggage so they can still leave on time.

    I’ve never been late for a flight – Admittedly I fly regularly and am familiar with the gates/procedures etc. However even for an unseasoned traveler there should be no excuse for not turning up on time – unless your connecting flight is delayed – and then the airline will usually make other arrangements for you. The airports are well signposted enough to be able to find the gate etc – It’s not rocket science. If the airlines were more strict with boarding times and fail to board passengers, then it would have to increase the on time performance.

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