Last updated: 12:00 PM ET, Wed January 20 2016

Which Airlines Improved On-Time Performance in 2015?

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | January 20, 2016

Which Airlines Improved On-Time Performance in 2015?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The OAG Punctuality League released the results of its annual study of the on-time performance of airports and airlines earlier this month. The data revealed that some airlines that perform well year after year are still at the top of their game, while a few have made surprising improvements and some have taken a step backwards when it comes to reliability.  

The report’s introduction, written by OAG’s John Grant, points out that, overall, this was a very good year for airlines, not only in terms of profits, but also in terms of performance: 

“Overall, punctuality continues to improve in many parts of the world. Investment in new technology, improved operating procedures and most importantly, the skill and professionalism of the airline and airport operators translate into the continual improvements we are reporting year on year.” 

On-time standouts

Four airlines had an on-time average in excess of 90 percent. airBaltic led the field; 94.39 percent of the Latvian carrier's flights were considered on time in 2015. To be “on time,” a flight has to depart and arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. Two airlines from the Americas also performed extremely well. Panama’s Copa and Brazil’s Azul both had on-time ratings of 91 percent. Japan Airlines scored above 90 percent as well. 

READ MORE: Complaints Rose With On-Time Performance in 2015

U.S. carriers improve

In the U.S., perennial on-time champ Hawaiian Airlines once again scored higher than any other carrier in the country. 89.11 percent of its flights arrived and departed on time. The limited number of routes and the fact that most of its flights start or end in always-sunny, delay-free Hawaii certainly helped this average. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Delta. One of the world’s largest carriers (now the second largest in the U.S. behind American), it has improved its on-time performance drastically over the past few years and is now one of the best in the U.S. with 84.46 percent of its flights considered on time. (American finished at 80 percent and United at 78).

READ MORE: Delta's New On-Time Promotion: What's the Catch?

Delta can use the result of the OAG survey as evidence that it has improved its customer friendliness. Delta lagged behind the other legacy carriers in terms of on-time performance in the past. Improving this has become a point of emphasis over the past few years. Delta even performed better than one of its biggest rivals, Southwest (82 percent of flights were on time). 

Using rankings to promote and compete

The different numbers highlight one of the biggest benefits of performing well on a respected report like this: it is a perfect opportunity to offer potential passengers a comparison between your airline and the competition. Even if the differences are negligible (84 percent versus 82 percent), the data paints a very black and white picture that Delta, for example, can use to sell itself as a more reliable alternative. It could also use the data as an example of the improved customer experience that it now offers. 

The complete OAG Punctuality League report for 2016 is available here


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