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3 different airlines claim victory for January on-time performance

written by Jake Nelson | February 23, 2024

Victor Pody shot these Qantas and Rex 737-800s at Melbourne Airport.

Qantas, Rex and Bonza have all celebrated new BITRE data for January despite performance, in general, remaining below long-term averages.

Qantas has pointed to what it says is a “significant improvement in punctuality”, saying it has beaten Virgin for the 17th straight month, while Rex has held up its top-of-the-table ranking in on-time departures and cancellations, and Bonza said it led the field in on-time arrivals.

Performance by participating airlines in January (Bonza, Jetstar, Qantas, QantasLink, Rex Airlines, Skytrans, Virgin Australia and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines) averaged 73.4 per cent for on-time arrivals and 74.2 per cent for on-time departures, with 3.1 per cent cancellations, compared to the long-term average of 81 per cent on-time arrivals, 82.1 per cent on-time departures, and 2.2 per cent cancellations.

Qantas and QantasLink services saw on-time departures of 77.8 per cent in January, compared to Virgin at 69.4 per cent; Jetstar, however, trailed Virgin at 69 per cent. Two-and-a-half per cent of Qantas and QantasLink flights were cancelled, compared to 5.3 per cent of Virgin services.

“This was the airline’s best result since February 2023 and well above the 69.5 per cent achieved the previous month – a figure heavily influenced by weather and air traffic control issues,” the Flying Kangaroo said in a statement.


“Jetstar’s on time performance improved month-on-month, with 69 per cent of flights departing on time and 2.4 per cent of flights cancelled, its best result since August 2023. In December, just over 62 per cent of flights departed on time and 5.5 per cent of flights were cancelled.”

Rex saw 80.9 per cent of its flights depart on time, with just 0.6 per cent cancelled, figures which Rex executive chairman Lim Kim Hai said put both Qantas and Virgin to shame. Rex has consistently criticised the major carriers for their performance.

“Rex achieved its low cancellation rate and high degree of on time performance on the same routes in similar weather conditions and times, with the same air traffic control problems,” he said.

“One can draw only one of two conclusions from the disgraceful cancellation rates of the two major carriers. Either they are grossly incompetent or they deliberately hoard airport slots by scheduling flights they do not intend to fly. In either case, the travelling public pays the price for its misplaced loyalty.”

Bonza, meanwhile, bounced back from a poor showing in December caused by issues with its Gold Coast base to achieve 78.6 per cent on-time arrivals. While this was behind Virgin Australia Regional Airlines at 82 per cent, it beat Rex (77.3 per cent), Qantas (76.6 per cent), Jetstar (71.5 per cent) and Virgin (67.9 per cent).

CEO Tim Jordan said the low-cost carrier had topped the charts for on-time arrivals for five of the past six months, with the notable exception of December 2023.

“We have learnt and vastly improved from our December 2023 cancellations and OTP, which mostly arose from the well-publicised delays in receiving regulatory approval related to aircraft operating out of our new Gold Coast base,” he said.

“Being top of on time arrivals for five of the past six months comes from a lot of hard work and focus from our Bonza Team and our vital operational partners, and we will continue our mission to bring a positive change to the Aussie domestic aviation industry.”

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