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Airservices claims best performance in 12 months as delays plummet

written by Jake Nelson | April 11, 2024

Victor Pody shot this picture of Melbourne’s air traffic control towers.

Air traffic control performance has continued to lift, with ground delays and cancellations attributable to Airservices hitting a 12-month low.

In the latest Australian Aviation Network Overview for March 2024, Airservices Australia said that its “capacity constraints” affected only 1.3 per cent of flights for the month, with 4 per cent of ground delays and just 1 per cent of cancellations attributable to Airservices.

“The consistency of air traffic service provision improved in March 2024. The overall variations to published services reduced by 80 per cent compared to the average trend in the previous 12 months, following concentrated efforts to maximise resource availability to protect peak demand periods,” the report says.

“However, further sustained efforts are needed to embed greater flexibility and resilience. This requires higher levels of resourcing (as compared to pre-pandemic) combined with transformation of processes and systems to meet long-term performance expectations.

“Monitoring and reporting on additional controls to tighten the demand/capacity balance is in place to ensure the impact of Airservices’ constraints on the network is minimised.”


According to the report, on-time performance in general across Australia’s aviation network has continued to improve since November 2023.

“Removing the effects of significant weather disruptions, such as Cyclone Lincoln in Western Australia in February 2024, cancellation rates reduced at most airports compared to the previous month. However, delivering OTP to long-term and global benchmarks above 80 per cent remains a cross-industry challenge,” Airservices said.

“In efforts to understand the building blocks of OTP, preliminary analysis has shown that disruptions during the first rotation of the day can potentially cause up to 45 per cent of subsequent flight arrival delays in the morning.

“Throughout the day, experience shows it is generally not possible to recover the impact given that 78 per cent of major airlines’ fleet rotate through major airports multiple times a day. Measures to build layers of network resilience to protect the first rotation period are being progressed with industry inputs.”

Airservices’ improvements come after staffing headaches last year, which saw Qantas, ATC union Civil Air, and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots all insist the organisation did not have enough air traffic controllers to meet requirements, as well as reports of 340 instances of “uncontrolled airspace” from June to April 2023 due to “staff availability issues”.

Airservices is currently facing potential strike action from air traffic controllers, who are continuing to claim the government-owned corporation is understaffed, accusations Airservices denies.

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