Frequent flyers may have a hard time believing that more of their flights are arriving on time and fewer are being cancelled, but that's what the latest numbers say.
Average on-time performance across all seven Aussie airlines – from the Big Three of Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar to regional operators such as REX - reached 83% in the month of May, up from 79.2% in April, according to figures released today from the federal government's Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
(We should also add the caveat that, according to the number-crunchers, flights are counted as "on time" if they arrive or depart from the gate within 15 minutes of their scheduled time.)
However, average flight cancellations across the board nudged slightly north from 0.9% to 1.1% in the same period.
Qantas still holds number one spot with 86.2% of flights running on-time in May – a gain of 3 points from April's 83.1% result. On-time arrivals (as opposed to the average for both arrivals and departures) rose from 82.4% to 86.2%.
John Borghetti looks to be making good on his promise to improve Virgin Australia's punctuality to the point where the challenger airline can overtake Qantas by year's end. Virgin continued to closed the gap in May, with the on-time flight average up from April's 80% to 83.4% in May.
This clear gain of 3.4 points is bolstered by the fact that the on-time arrivals figure – which is most crucial for business travellers – now sits at 82.9%, slightly higher than what Qantas was the month before. So while Qantas also managed to make gains in May, Virgin Australia is running hot on its heels.
Jetstar is another big improver, up from 77.1% on-time in April to 81.5% last month. Even the perpetual wooden spooner Tiger lifted its game, from 60.7% in April to 73.4% in May, while cancellations dropped from 5.5% to 3.5%.
REX is Australia's most punctual regional airline with an average of 85.8% of flights running to schedule, followed by 82% on QantasLink and 81.9% for Skywest.
If you're keen to dive a little deeper into the May 2011 numbers, or want to slice and dice them for yourself, you can download a PDF copy of the report.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.