All of Australia’s domestic carriers bar Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) improved their on-time performance in July, government figures show.
VARA was the only carrier to suffer a drop in punctuality in August, with the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) monthly report showing 75.9 per cent of its flights departed within 15 minutes of schedule in the month, down from 79.8 per cent in July.
Similarly, the regional wing of Virgin Australia posted a 2.8 percentage point drop for on-time departures to 80.7 per cent.
At the other end of the scale, VARA’s parent airline Virgin Australia topped the charts for punctuality in August, achieving an on-time performance of 89.4 per cent for arrivals and 90.9 per cent for departures.
Virgin came in ahead of rival Qantas, which had the next best on-time performance in the month with 89.2 per cent of the Flying Kangaroo’s domestic services arriving within 15 minutes of schedule and 90.3 per cent leaving the departure gate on time.
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.
Among the low-cost carriers, Tigerair Australia again finished ahead of rival Jetstar in the punctuality stakes.
Tigerair achieved an on-time arrivals rate of 87.1 per cent in August, up 13.5 percentage points from July, while its on-time departures was 11.7 percentage points higher at 89.1 per cent.
While Jetstar also had double-digit improvements for arrivals and departures, its efforts were not enough to catch up with Tigerair, with 83.6 per cent of Jetstar flights arriving on time and 80.4 per cent departing within 15 minutes of schedule.
Tigerair chief executive Rob Sharp said recently improving on-time performance has been an area the Virgin Australia-owned carrier had invested heavily in.
“We’ve put processes in place that are designed to be dependable, replicable. We’ve also enhanced infrastructure access – infrastructure has been a key element to turning the business around on the operational side,” Sharp told delegates at the CAPA – Centre for Aviation Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Brisbane on August 4.
“Partnering with best-of-breed engineering and also investing in a number of customer innovations which have also improved on-time performance.”
The honours were shared among those focused on regional operations, with QantasLink having the best on-time arrivals at 87.8 per cent and Regional Express (Rex) leading the regional airlines for departures at 89.4 per cent.
Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said recently the airline took great pride in its on-time record, noting the low cancellation rate during the 2015/16 financial year of 0.5 per cent.
“Our performance stacks up well if you compare Rex’s performance with like-minded organisations,” Sharp said at the airline group’s full year results presentation on August 24, referring to the likes of QantasLink and VARA.
The improvement among the carriers reflected better weather in August, given Australian Bureau of Meteorology figures that showed parts Queensland, the northern tropics, the west, Victoria and Tasmania received “well above average” rainfall in July.
There was also flooding in parts of Queensland and South Australia in July, while strong winds battered parts of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and NSW.
“Rainfall in July was the seventh-wettest on record for Australia as a whole, and the wettest July since 1998,” the weather bureau said in monthly weather review for July.
On-time arrivals for August (figure in brackets indicates percentage point change from previous month)
Virgin 89.4% (+11.2)
Qantas 89.2% (+9.7)
QantasLink 87.8% (+8.0)
Tigerair 87.1% (+13.5)
Rex 86.6% (+7.0)
Jetstar 83.6% (+14.8)
Virgin Australia Regional 75.9% (-3.9)
Virgin network 88.7% (+10.4)
Qantas network 88.5% (+8.9)
On-time departures for August (figure in brackets indicates percentage point change from previous month)
Virgin 90.9% (+9.6)
Qantas 90.3% (+7.4)
Rex 89.4% (+6.0)
Tigerair 89.1% (+11.7)
QantasLink 88.6% (+7.8)
Virgin Australia Regional 80.7% (-2.8)
Jetstar 80.4% (+12.8)
Virgin network 90.4% (+9.0)
Qantas network 89.4% (+7.6)