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Just 48% of Qantas Sydney departures on time in April

written by Adam Thorn | May 20, 2022

Qantas 737s parked at Sydney Airport, as shot by Victor Pody
Qantas 737s parked at Sydney Airport, as shot by Victor Pody.

Less than half of Qantas departures from both Sydney and Melbourne airports were on time during April – significantly lower than all its major rivals.

It comes as new figures released on Friday morning reveal the delays across the board were the worst since records began.

One of the most eye-catching figures shows how Qantas’ on-time departures at Sydney Airport slipped to just 48 per cent, compared to Jetstar’s 58 per cent, Rex’s 66 per cent and Virgin’s 63 per cent. In Melbourne, Qantas recorded 47 per cent compared to the same for Jetstar, 71 per cent for Rex and 56 per cent for Virgin.

Other statistics show:

  • Of the routes measured, the worst across all airlines were Launceston-Melbourne, which dropped to just 37 per cent on-time arrivals, and Melbourne Perth, which dipped to 32.4 per cent on-time departures.
  • At the Gold Coast, Qantas’ on-time departures slipped to just 42 per cent from 74 flights. Virgin managed 59 per cent from 442 flights;
  • At Brisbane, Jetstar fared the worst for on-time departures, with its figure hitting just 52 per cent, compared to Qantas managing 69 per cent from more than twice as many flights.

An “on-time” arrival or departure is one that arrived or departed from the gate before 15 minutes after the scheduled time shown in the carriers’ scheduled flights. Neither diverted nor cancelled flights count as on time.


Overall, airline travel delays in April were the worst since records began in 2003 – with almost 40 per cent of arrivals and departures not on-time.

The new release from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) concluded, “These are the worst on-time performance figures recorded since recording commenced in November 2003. This month’s figures were impacted by weather-related events, congestion (highest number of sectors flown since the commencement of COVID-19) and other COVID-19 related issues.”

The delays during the holidays attracted huge national media attention, with airports around the country seeing enormous snaking lines at check-in, bag drop and security.

At the same time, Sydney Airport was forced to cancel dozens of flights in the days leading up to Easter.

The chaos saw passengers grow increasingly frustrated, due to missed and cancelled flights and additional stress after two years without the ability to travel.

Both Sydney Airport and Qantas blamed the extensive wait times, in part, on travellers themselves, however, many passengers said that there was a visible staffing issue that saw security lanes and check-in desks closed and non-operational.

As reports first emerged of holiday-induced chaos in Sydney, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce blamed delays on “not match fit” travellers.

“I went through the airports on Wednesday and people forget they need to take out their laptops, they have to take out their aerosols … so that is taking longer to get through the [security] queue,” he said.

He added COVID close-contact rules were causing “high level of absenteeism” of up to 18 per cent, however NSW Health later eased close contact rules for aviation workers, allowing them to return to work with a mask if they show no symptoms and test negative to COVID, even if someone in their household has tested positive.

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