Air Canada's poor punctuality needs to improve ahead of new passenger rights

Aug 9 2019, 8:43 pm

A new analysis has found that the on-time performance (OTP) of Canada’s national carrier dropped during the first half of 2019 compared to 2018.

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According to Claim Compass, a California-based travel compensation company, Air Canada’s OTP dropped to 68.03% this year to date from 68.77% last year.

With an average of 46,000 flights per month, this 0.74% decrease equates to roughly an additional 340 more delayed flights per month.

The airline’s budget carrier, Rouge, saw a larger drop to its OTP, falling from 68.01% in 2018 to 65.67% in the first six months of 2019. Furthermore, this year to date, 34.33% of Rouge flights were delayed by 15 minutes or more.

As this is a comparison between the first half of 2019 and the entire 2018 year, winter-related weather conditions likely have a greater weighting for the OTP ratio of this year to date.

Specific month-to-month 2019 OTPs for Air Canada were unavailable, but in 2018 the airline’s punctuality reached a high of 81.02% in May 2018 and a low of 56.06% in January 2018. On average last year, 31.23% of Air Canada’s flights were late for 15 minutes or more, with the average delay lasting for 51 minutes.

Air Canada Rouge saw an even poorer punctuality performance last year, with an annual average OTP of 68.01%, reaching a high of 80.52% in May 2018 and a low of 54.39% in January 2018. Furthermore, 31.99% of Rouge flights are delayed, and the average delay lasts for 55 minutes.

For these reasons, Claim Compass said Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge are “among the most delayed [airlines] in the world.”

In contrast, WestJet’s average OTP throughout 2018 was higher at 77.82%, with its OTP climbing to as high as 88.26% in May 2018 and a low of 64.42% in February 2018. No 2019 data for WestJet’s OTP is available at this time, but throughout 2018, 22.18% of its flights were considered late and the average delay was 48 minutes.

Air Canada also has a significantly lower OTP than other North American counterparts, with Delta Airlines being the strongest perform during the first half of 2019 with an OTP of 83.69%.

The next strongest performer is American Airlines’ OTP of 79.23% during the same period, followed by United Airlines’ OTP of 76.86%.

All three US airlines also saw OTP drops in the first half of 2019, with United Airlines experiencing the largest drop of 3%.

Earlier in the year, the Canadian federal government signalled to airlines that they will need to improve their reliability and customer-oriented performance to avoid the penalizations of the Canadian Transportation Agency’s new air passenger protection regulations.

The first of the regulations dealing largely with improving communication, discouraging overbooking, and compensating lost baggage went into effect on July 15, while the second stage of regulations on compensating passengers for delayed flights will go into effect on December 15.

This includes compensation of up to $1,000 for flight delays and cancellations within an airline’s control that are not safely related, and rebooking or refunding passengers when flights are delayed, including using a competing airline to get passengers to their destination.

When flights are delayed, passengers must also be provided with food, drink, and accommodation.

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Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

+ Venture