Aeroplanes on the runway at Sunshine Coast Airport, Virgin Australia plane.
Photo: Iain Curry / Sunshine Coast Daily
Aeroplanes on the runway at Sunshine Coast Airport, Virgin Australia plane. Photo: Iain Curry / Sunshine Coast Daily Iain Curry

Who are the most reliable airlines in Australia?

JETTING off anywhere anytime soon?

Wanting to depart and arrive on time and avoid cancellations?

Well we've done the homework to give you the most punctual domestic airline operators in Australia at present.

Latest Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics data released for May 2016 has shown which major domestic and regional airlines are taking off and landing on-time.

Of the airlines involved in the projects (Jetstar, Qantas, QantasLink, Regional Express, Tigerair Australia, Virgin Australia and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines), on the whole, they were all performing better compared to May 2015 and on-time arrivals, departures and cancellations were all improvements on the long term average performance for all routes.

Key Points:

  • Virgin Australia top major domestic carrier for both on-time arrivals and departures last month
  • QantasLink top regional carrier for on-time arrivals
  • Regional Express top regional carrier for on-time departures
  • Virgin Australia just shading Qantas in battle of the heavyweights
  • Qantas flew over 6000 more services than Virgin Australia

It's also probably worth noting, the busier the airport the more likely the figures are to be lower, with more routes and a greater number of flights coming through the airport meaning weather and other issues can have a greater effect than at a less-frequented facility.

Also important to note, airlines have more control over departures than arrivals due to air traffic control regulations.

So, how did they stack up last month?

Of the major domestic airlines, Virgin Australia were atop the dais, with 90.1% of arrivals on time last month, followed by Qantas on 89%, Tigerair Australia (86.3%) and Jetstar at 82.6%.

QantasLink was best performing regional airline in terms of on-time arrivals (88%), ahead of Regional Express (87%) and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (80.6%).


A Qantas jet lands at Sunshine Coast Airport.
A Qantas jet lands at Sunshine Coast Airport. Contributed

In the on-time departure stakes, for the major domestic operators, it was Virgin Australia again on top, with 91.1%, followed by Qantas (90.5%), Tigerair (87.5%) and Jetstar (79.3%).

In the regional sector, the highest on-time departures for May were carried out by Regional Express (89.5%), QantasLink (88.4%) while Virgin Australia Regional Airlines recorded an 85.6% rate of on-time departures.

As for the Sunshine Coast, the Sunshine Coast-Sydney route had the lowest percentage of on-time departures (70.5%) while the Sunshine Coast Airport also recorded the lowest percentage of on-time departures (71.9%).

How do you choose your airlines?

This poll ended on 25 June 2016.

Current Results

Price. The cheaper the better!


Safety. A good track record gets me in.


Convenience. Whichever one is flying where i need to go at the right time.


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

In the battle of the two heavyweights, Qantas (all QF designated services) and Virgin Australia (all VA designated services), it was Virgin who had the superior figures this month by a whisker.

Virgin Australia recorded 89.7% on-time arrivals and 90.8% of on-time departures, just shading Qantas who scored 88.5% (on-time arrivals) and 89.4% (on-time departures).

Qantas flew over 6000 more services than Virgin Australia for the month of May.


Virgin Australia plane taking off from Sunshine Coast Airport.
Virgin Australia plane taking off from Sunshine Coast Airport. Iain Curry

A Virgin Australia spokesman said they were continuing to find ways to improve services and said they were on track for another strong year.

"Virgin Australia was pleased to have had the strongest on time performance in May among the major Australia airlines," the spokesman said.

"We place a strong emphasis on our On Time Performance with government statistics showing we are on track to outperform all other major Australian airlines for the second consecutive year.

"We continue to find ways to improve on-time performance and deliver exceptional service to all of our guests."

A Tigerair spokesman said they were pleased with their results against main competitor Jetstar on like-for-like routes and pointed to Tigerair's low cancellation rate as another positive.

"During May 2016, 87.8% of Tigerair Australia flights departed on time," the spokesman said.

"Tigerair cancelled 0.5% of all flights in May 2016, equating to a total of just ten cancelled flights for the entire month."

A Jetstar spokesman said it was encouraging that more than 80% of their flights had arrived on-time in May.

"While it's pleasing that more than 80 percent of our flights arrived as scheduled in May, we know there is room for improvement," the spokesman said.

"Punctuality is really important to our customers and everyone at Jetstar is focused on delivering to our schedule on a more consistent basis."

A Sunshine Coast Airport spokeswoman said the statistics in the report were a matter for airlines and Airservices Australia.

The Daily has approached Regional Express and QantasLink.

The figures within the report relate to reported routes, BITRE point out, and don't cover all flights at all airports within the report.

NB: Information presented in this report is for Australian domestic routes for which the passenger load averaged 8 000 or more passengers per month over the previous six months and where two or more airlines operated in competition on those routes. There were 66 routes that met this definition in May 2016. Over time, routes which meet these criteria change as airline networks and traffic levels vary.

To view more monthly stats head here.

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