Sydney | Published on 2nd February 2023 at 14:24

Qantas customers had more on time flights and fewer cancellations in January than in the same month pre-COVID, making the national carrier the most punctual major domestic airline for five months in a row.

This is the latest month-on-month improvement at Qantas after a turnaround that started in August 2022. It followed the lows reached in mid-2022 due to sick leave and industry-wide labour shortages, when almost half of all Qantas flights ran late and more than 7 per cent were cancelled.

Data on domestic flying for December and January, showed:

  • On time performance this summer peak was 78.4 per cent, better than the same period pre-COVID (December 2019-January 2020) when 76.8 per cent of flights departed on-time.
  • January’s performance was at its highest level since February 2022, with 81.5 per cent of flights departing on time and 75.3 per cent in December. Across both months 90 per cent of flights landed at their destination within 30 minutes of their scheduled arrival time.
  • Qantas outperformed its main domestic competitor on punctuality by around 7 percentage points over the summer peak and for eight out of the past 12 months.
  • Cancellations were 2.8 per cent in January, compared to 3.1 per cent of flights in January 2020.

The improved performance was helped by a $200 million investment to roster additional crew, train new recruits and keep up to 20 aircraft on standby that were called upon to reduce delays and cancellations. Ultimately, the improvement has only been possible with the hard work of thousands of crew and support staff across the national carrier, and the understanding of customers.

Qantas has confirmed that its turn back rate over the past 12 months remains consistent with pre-COVID. For Qantas mainline this averages 1 for every 2,000 flights or around 60 per year. Regional airline QantasLink averages over 200 air returns with a higher number of total flights and because a varying degree of technical and other support at remote airports makes it more practical to turn back to a capital city when technical or weather-related issues occur. There are more than 10,000 air returns globally each year.