Canadian airlines flop when it comes to being on time

Air Canada received a two-star rating on its on-time performance for the last year. (Motley Fool)

One of the biggest stresses when travelling is actually making it to  your destination on time. If you knew one airline would be more likely to get you to where you’re going in a timely fashion, chances are you’d take it, right?

Based on a recent ranking, that doesn’t bode well for Canada’s major airlines.

OAG, a service monitoring the performance of airlines globally, has released its annual on-time performance list. To be considered “on time,” a flight must arrive no later than 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival time.

All airlines are then awarded a number of stars, depending on how they rank compared to other airlines on the list. The top 10 per cent get a 5-star rating.

Airlines that run a minimum of 600 flights each month were considered in the ranking. Five airlines operating in Canada were eligible for the list — and none ranked higher than three stars.

Yup, we’ve all been there. (Giphy)

WestJet performed the best of any Canadian airline on the list, with an annual on-time performance (OTP) rating of 76.8 per cent, and garnering a 3-star rating. Air Canada and Porter Airlines Inc. both got 2-star rankings, with annual OTP ratings of 68.4 per cent and 65.6 per cent respectively.

Sunwing Airlines got a 1-star rating with an annual OTP rating of 61.4 per cent. Air Inuit, which ranked very last in the global ranking, got an annual OTP rating of 46.3 per cent and a 1-star rating.

There are several reasons why Canadian airlines performed so poorly compared against, say, the top-ranking Safair, a South Africa-based airline with an annual OTP ranking of 94.9 per cent. Safair ran 13,984 operations in the last year, far less than WestJet’s 249,531 or Air Canada’s 582,569 (and even less than Air Inuit’s 22,444), which leaves a lot less opportunity for flights to be delayed.

There’s also the question of weather: Canada’s sometimes unpredictable climate can be a real problem for flights, and is more likely to see problems than more temperate regions.

But comparing to year-over-year numbers, the news isn’t great. WestJet had an annual OTP rating of 81.36 per cent in the 2016 report, down from 85.88 per cent in 2015. Air Canada had a rating of 74.97 per cent in 2016, and 79.46 per cent in 2015.

Luckily for Canadian airlines, they aren’t the only ones seeing a decline in on-time performance. Climate change has had an impact on the on-time performance of flights, with extreme turbulence on the rise and expected to get worse.

“Even the most seasoned frequent flyers may be alarmed at the prospect of a 149-per-cent increase in severe turbulence, which frequently hospitalizes air travellers and flight attendants around the world,” Dr. Paul Williams, researcher at the University of Reading, said.

Between changing weather patterns and an increase in customer service-related incidents on flights, chances are you won’t be seeing better chances at arriving to your destination on time in the near future.

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