Domestic airline reliability figures reflect fares

Figures for domestic airline reliability suggest it's pretty much a case of 'you get what you pay for'.
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01.Latest figures for airline reliability

Aeroplane flying

Statistics from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development show that Regional Express, Qantas and Virgin airlines had better results for on-time departures and arrivals, as well as lower cancellation rates than their budget rivals, Jetstar and Tigerair in the 2013-14 financial year. "On-time" is considered no more than 15 minutes behind scheduled departure or arrival time.

The figures for all services were 83.9% for on-time departures, 82.0% for arrivals and 1.6% for cancellations. The departure and arrival figures are on par with long-term figures, though cancellation rates are a little higher than the long-term average of 1.3%.

Of the major airlines, Qantas achieved the highest on-time rates, with 86.5% of arrivals on time, with Virgin Australia achieving 81.8% and Jetstar close behind on 79.5%. Tigerair was lowest on 71.2%. For the regional carriers, Regional Express was best on 86.0%, with Virgin Regional on 82.5% and Qantas Link on 78.7%.

Cancellation rates were highest for Qantas Link, on 2.5%, followed by TigerAir on 2.2%. Regional Express had a cancellation rate of 0.5%. Cancellations were highest on the Perth-Karratha and Karratha-Perth routes, while Sydney-Canberra and Canberra-Sydney and Emerald-Brisbane also had high cancellation rates.


Table: Domestic Airline Reliability July 2013 - June 2014


On-time departures (%)  

On-time arrivals (%)    
   Cancellations (%)  
All airlines
 83.9  82.0
 Jetstar  78.9  79.5
 Qantas  87.6
 86.5  1.3
 82.3  78.7  2.5
 Regional Express
 88.8  86.0  0.5
 Tigerair  75.2  71.2  2.2
 Virgin Australia
 83.9  81.8  1.5
 Virgin Australia Regional
 85.0  82.5  1.3

If you'd like to know which airline has the best reliability on a particular route, see our comparison table for performance on different routes.

On-time performance is reported for all routes where the passenger load averages over 8000 passengers per month over the previous six months, and where two or more airlines operate in competition on those routes. At present there are 62 routes which meet this definition, though this varies over time.

When CHOICE last surveyed members about their satisfaction with domestic airlines, Virgin Australia (then Virgin Blue) was rated best overall, though many people still chose to fly Qantas because of frequent flyer points. Regional Express also scored highly, with many commenting on the friendly, personal service. Reliability was the biggest bugbear for Jetstar and Tigerair passengers, though many people have realistic expectations of low cost carriers: "you get what you pay for".

While the lower prices of the budget airlines may mean the difference between travelling or not travelling for some, for others they may prove a false economy if delays and cancellations mean missed connections, an extra night in a hotel or a missed occasion.

The report for 2013-14 is available from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website. The statistics cited above were obtained from the monthly time series data.



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