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Qantas hails performance despite Transport Minister attack

written by Jake Nelson | January 22, 2024

Victor Pody shot this Qantas 737-800, VH-VXD, taking off from Melbourne.

Qantas has again claimed to be the “most on-time major domestic airline”, weeks after Transport Minister Catherine King attacked the performance of Australia’s two biggest carriers.

The Flying Kangaroo pointed to BITRE data that showed 69.5 per cent of Qantas and QantasLink services took off on time in December, compared to 62.1 per cent of Jetstar flights and 56.5 per cent of Virgin flights.

Across all airlines, just 65.2 per cent of flights departed on time last month, far worse than the long-term averages of 82.2 per cent on-time departures and 2.2 per cent cancellations.

“This is the 16th consecutive month that Qantas has been the most on time major domestic airline, but still shows significant room for improvement in absolute terms,” Qantas said in a statement.

“Qantas’ overall cancellation rate was around half that of its major competitor (3.7 per cent vs 7.5 per cent). Cancellations on Melbourne-Sydney and Sydney-Canberra fell to 3 per cent.”


Qantas additionally noted that 5.5 per cent of Jetstar flights were cancelled.

The carrier has pointed to issues at Airservices and inclement weather – including the impact of Tropical Cyclone Jasper and the Christmas storms on the east coast – as negatively affecting its on-time performance.

“Uncontrollable factors – chiefly weather and air traffic control issues – accounted for 8.2 percentage points of on time performance in December for Qantas and 7.9 percentage points for Jetstar. Factors outside of the airlines’ control were responsible for roughly half of all Qantas and Jetstar’s cancellations for the month (1.8 and 3 percentage points respectively),” said Qantas, adding that 75 per cent of its flights in January so far have departed on time.

Late last year, Transport Minister Catherine King said Australians were “fed up” with the major airlines, putting both Qantas and Virgin on blast after a poor showing for on-time performance in November.

“Like all Australians, the government wants an aviation sector that supports our nation’s way of life and this means services need to be reliable, competitive and affordable,” she said.

According to Qantas, for the calendar year of 2023, its flights saw 74.1 per cent on-time departures and 3.5 per cent cancellations, compared to 67.1 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively for Virgin.

“Qantas’ overall on time performance for 2023 was almost 5 percentage points better than the percentage of flights that departed on time in 2022. Qantas cancellations dropped by 1.5 per cent year on year,” the airline said.

The reputation of Australia’s national carrier has taken a beating in the public eye in recent years, with Qantas going from the strongest brand in Australia in 2019 to 41st this year, according to studies by consultancy firm Brand Finance.

Brand Finance’s study measures both a brand’s value, which takes into account earnings, and its strength, which focuses more on its reputation with the public. Qantas scored a strength rating of 71.35, putting it behind Myer, Tip Top and Origin Energy.

It comes as the airline prepares to fight ACCC allegations in court that it sold tickets to flights it had already cancelled, and months after the early exit of former CEO Alan Joyce.

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Comment (1)

  • Understandably there is emphasis on, On time Deps. – however there does not appear to be any data on, On time Arrs. With the difference between scheduled flight time and actual flight plan time an adverse departure delay figure could well be zero. I estimate that this situation would reduce the controllable departure delay figures by 30%.

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