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This week we’ve seen air passengers stranded in the Philippines after a power outage, flight delays in Florida and Denver, as well as the ongoing saga of Southwest Airlines’ winter holiday meltdown.
Welcome to 2023, where an airline actually being punctual is headline news. The airline in question is South American carrier Azul Brazilian Airlines, which last year had the best on-time performance globally, according to a new report by aviation analytics firm Candle.
During what was a particularly chaotic 12 months for aviation, Azul Brazilian operated nearly 280,000 flights last year and 88.93% of them arrived within 15 minutes of its scheduled time at the gate – Cirium’s performance measure.
Elsewhere in South America, Chile’s LATAM Airlines (86.31% punctuality across more than 450,000 flights) took fourth place on Cirium’s ranking of international airlines and Colombia’s Avianca (83.48% and nearly 145,000 flights) was sixth.
The United States was also well represented, both for airlines and airports.
For the second year in a row, Delta Airlines was given the Cirium Platinum Award for global operational excellence, which weighs up punctuality alongside operational complexity and an airline’s ability to limit the impact of flight disruption to its passengers.
While Delta only made fifth place on the global leaderboard, an impressive 83.63% of its million-plus flights were on time.
United Airlines (80.46%) was in eighth place and American Airlines (78.29%) at No.10, while Southwest lagged behind with 74.06%.
Six out of the world’s top ten most punctual airports were in the US, with Salt Lake City International Airport placing highest. Cirium reports that 83.87% of its 226,545 flights took off within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure time.
Asia-Pacific was considerably slower to open up air travel post-Covid compared to the rest of the world. Japan reopened its international borders in October and two of its airlines – All Nippon Airways (88.61%) and Japan Airlines 88.00% – were No.2 and No.3 on Cirium’s leaderboard.
Japan’s StarFlyer was named the world’s leading low-cost carrier (95.23% punctuality across nearly 22,000 flights) and Tokyo’s Haneda the top airport performer globally for on-time departures (90.33% punctuality across more than 370,000 flights).
It was a big year for travel to the Middle East, with the delayed Expo 2020 Dubai and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 both taking place, but Emirates (at No.7) and Qatar Airways (at No.10) rose to the challenge well.
No European airlines or airports appeared in Cirium’s top 10s of global leaders and no UK airline or airport even made the grade for its regional ranking of the best performers in Europe.
Spain’s Iberia, with 85.87% punctuality across more than 91,000 flights, was named top in Europe.
1. Azul Brazilian Airlines (88.93% punctuality; 279,722 flights).
2. All Nippon Airlines (88.61% punctuality; 162,370 flights).
3. Japan Airlines (88.00% punctuality; 165,981 flights).
4. LATAM Airlines (86.31% punctuality; 451,651 flights).
5. Delta Air Lines (83.63% punctuality; 1,004,684 flights).
6. Avianca S.A. (83.48% punctuality; 144,525 flights).
7. Emirates (81.30% punctuality; 137,589 flights).
8. United Airlines (80.46% punctuality; 789,200 flights).
9. Qatar Airways (78.32% punctuality; 152,377 flights).
10. American Airlines (78.29% punctuality; 1,076,100 flights).
1. Haneda Airport, Tokyo (90.33% punctuality; 373,264 flights).
2. Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore, India (84.08% punctuality; 201,897 flights).
3. Salt Lake City International Airport, Utah (83.87% punctuality; 226,545 flights).
4. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Michigan (82.62% punctuality; 271,963 flights).
5. Philadelphia International Airport, Pennsylvania (82.54% punctuality; 233,777 flights).
6. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Minnesota (81.95% punctuality; 276,346 flights).
7. Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi (81.84% punctuality; 411,205 flights).
8. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington (81.04% punctuality; 383,250 flights).
9. El Dorado International Airport, Bogotá (80.72% punctuality; 273,721 flights).
10. Charlotte Douglas International Airport, North Carolina (80.68% punctuality; 457,871 flights).