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Just 26% Darwin–Sydney flights on-time in July

written by Adam Thorn | August 23, 2022

File image of Darwin Control Tower (Sid Mitchell)

Domestic aviation in July suffered another record month for poor performance, with just 54 per cent of flights departing on time.

Cancellations also hit 6.4 per cent, around three times the pre-COVID average.

Incredibly, the Darwin-Sydney route saw on-time departures slump to just 26.4 per cent, with weather and sick absences blamed.

It comes after previous record-lows were recorded in both June and April.

According to new data released by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), Virgin achieved the highest level of on-time departures among the major domestic airlines for July 2022 at just 51.1 per cent, followed by Jetstar at 47.7 per cent and Qantas at 45.3 per cent.


Of the regional airlines, Rex recorded 70.6 per cent for on-time departures, followed by QantasLink at 57.5 per cent and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines at 47.6 per cent.

Jetstar recorded the highest percentage of cancellations (at 8.8 per cent) during the month, followed by Virgin (at 7.8 per cent), QantasLink (at 6.5 per cent), Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (at 5.9 per cent), Qantas (at 5.6 per cent) and Rex (at 2.1 per cent).

Airlines and airports around Australia — and the world — have been under fire for months due to a growing prevalence of last-minute flight delays and cancellations, lost baggage, and unprecedented snaking queues at airports.

The industry has chalked up the chaotic scenes to the “perfect storm” of pent-up travel demand, COVID-19 absences, and an underlying shortage of aviation staff.

At Sydney Airport, staff shortages at Air Traffic Control led to restrictions being applied on 21 out of the 31 days, including the closure of airspace or cutting back on take-offs and landings.

In July, Australian Aviation reported that the combination of heavy rain and school holidays had led to more disruption across Australia’s airports.

Sydney Airport warned it would welcome 2.1 million passengers across the winter school holiday period — significantly higher than the 1.8 million seen during the Easter break.

Internationally, more than 560,000 passengers were forecast, compared to 376,000 during the three-week break period in April.

Later, Perth Airport warned travellers to travel to the airport in taxis and Ubers due to its 18,000-spot car park reaching full capacity, while holidaymakers continued to battle long queues and flight cancellations.

The new figures come as Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce on Sunday issued a ‘formal apology’ to long-standing customers for the airline’s post-pandemic struggles.

The message came alongside a range of perks for frequent flyers, including a $50 voucher towards a return flight and a status extension for silver frequent flyers or above.

“Over the past few months, too many of you have had flights delayed, flights cancelled, and bags misplaced,” Joyce said via video and an email.

“On behalf of the national carrier, I want to apologise and assure you that we’re working hard to get back to our best.”

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Comment (1)

  • Mark White


    Flights from Sydney to Townsville have also been adversely affected over recent months with many direct flights being cancelled within a couple of hours of departure and being rerouted via Brisbane with missed connections at Townsville and further delays. This results in confusion , lost luggage and additional expense as any accommodation requirements needs to be changed and at peak times this can be difficult to arrange. This has happened with both Qantas and Virgin flights on that particular route.

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