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Virgin, Qantas named among global airlines most likely to cancel

written by Hannah Dowling | August 4, 2022

Virgin Australia, Qantas, and Air New Zealand have been named among the global airlines with the current highest cancellation rates, while Singapore Airlines was noted as the carrier with the lowest cancellation figure.

According to new data compiled by aviation analytics company Cirium, which looked at flight data from 19 major airlines in the three months to 26 July, Virgin Australia had one of the highest cancellation rates at 5.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand and Qantas also were named in the top five airlines with high cancellation rates, at 3.7 and 3.3 per cent respectively.

Notably, of all 19 studied carriers, Virgin boasts the smallest international network, possibly skewing the data. The airline said in a statement that it had outperformed Qantas’ cancellation rate domestically in the five months to June.

Singapore Airlines, which remains the top international carrier in Australia, was dubbed the most reliable airline, with a 0.8 per cent cancellation rate.

Other carriers included in the study included KLM (with a 5.8 per cent cancellation rate), Lufthansa (3.1 per cent), British Airways (3.0 per cent), and American Airlines (2.6 per cent).

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It comes just weeks after Australia’s airlines recorded their worst-ever month for flight delays and cancellations in June, surpassing the previous record low result set just two months earlier during the Easter holidays in April.

According to the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), Qantas was the worst offender, after it cancelled 8.1 per cent of all its domestic flights in June, along with a delay rate of nearly 40 per cent.

Meanwhile, rival Virgin reported 5.8 per cent cancellation rate. On the other hand, Rex Airlines cancelled just 0.7 per cent of all flights in June.

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The severe disruption was seen throughout the month as the industry continued to battle post-pandemic staff shortages. June’s issues were further fuelled by a mid-year school holiday travel surge and severe weather events, including flash flooding throughout NSW.

Overall, on average just 63.0 per cent of all flights arrived on time in June, while 61.9 per cent departed on schedule.

Meanwhile, a total of 5.8 per cent of all flights were cancelled over the month, nearly three times more than the long-term cancellation average.

BITRE said these figures mark “the worst” the industry has seen since records began in November 2003. It came just months after this record was previously set in April, as the airlines battled staff shortages amid the Easter and ANZAC Day long weekends.

The Sydney-Melbourne route saw the highest number of flight cancellations at 15.3 per cent of all scheduled services, while the return Melbourne-Sydney route saw the second-highest at 14.9 per cent.

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