August 16th, 2011

South African Airways

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has published the on-time performance results of domestic airlines’ flying out of OR Tambo, Cape Town, and King Shaka International Airports on its website.

SAA came out tops with an average of 92,25% on-time performance year-to-date. Second best performing airline was Airlink with 92,03%. SA Express measured 84,32% with British Airways Domestic following closely behind with 84,28%.

Out of the low cost carriers, Mango averaged the best rate of on-time performance with 90,61%, followed by 1time with an average of 84,64%. kulula’s on-time performance lagged behind all domestic airlines with 73,47%.

On-time performance stats for July 2011 show SAA again taking the lead with an average of 93,67%, followed closely by Airlink with 93,29%. SA Express averaged 88,07% and BA Domestic 86,82%.

1time took first place in the category of LCCs with an average on-time performance in July of 90,20%, followed by Mango with 86,85% and kulula with 81,77%.

Joint CEO of Comair, Gidon Novick, says it is good to have a comparison of on-time performance between airlines but the stats released by Acsa cannot be relied on at this stage for several reasons: “Firstly, not all airlines appear in the stats (for e.g. Velvet Sky). Secondly, these stats exclude Lanseria, which is half of kulula’s operation. Our latest on-time stats there are over 90% and the highest out of that airport.

“Thirdly, most ‘controllable’ delays are related to aircraft technicals – different airlines apply different standards in terms of dispatching flights with technical issues. I can only talk for our own standards and if there is the tiniest safety risk, we will rather delay a flight than take a chance.”

Acsa states that on-time performance is measured by comparing the actual off-block time (when the aircraft pushes back) against the airline schedule time for a departing flight. The measurement is done in accordance with the Iata universal standard benchmark, which considers a 15 minute deviation from the scheduled time as an on-time departure.

But airlines have not standardised their ‘block’ times per route, says Novick. “For example, a flight from Jo’burg to Cape Town takes around two hours. kulula promises an arrival two hours and 10 minutes from departure while Mango allocates two hours and 15 minutes, allowing an additional five minutes for ‘on-time’.

“Acsa comparisons are a good initiative but we need to make sure comparisons are accurate and fair.”

Having said this, Novick admits that kulula’s on-time performance earlier in the year was poor and below the airline’s own targets. “The main reason has been our fleet transition to new generation 737-800 aircraft – our older aircraft were phased out faster than we had planned resulting in a shortage of spare aircraft. kulula’s new fleet, which will be fully operational in the next six to nine months, will ensure that the airline has not only the best flight schedules but also the newest, safest and most reliable fleet.”

Meanwhile, Novick says the airline is pushing for passenger numbers of the different airlines to also be compared (as is done in the US). “This will enable customers and agents to see the relative popularity of the different airlines.”

Furthermore, 1time is asking Acsa to display all statistics in terms of airline passenger numbers, baggage delivery stats, lost luggage, etc. in an effort to let the customer know exactly what is going on behind the scenes, says Commercial Director of the airline, Desmond O’Connor.

OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg – Year to date (airport target 85%)

South African Airways – 92.42%
Mango – 90.61%
Airlink – 89.63%
1time – 83.51%
British Airways Domestic – 83.47%
South African Express – 81.34% – 72.44%

Cape Town International Airport – Year to date (airport target 89%)

Airlink – 93.50%
Mango – 91.11%
South African Airways – 90.66%
South African Express – 86.51%
1time – 85.42%
British Airways Domestic – 83.85% – 76.61%

King Shaka International Airport, Durban – Year to date (airport target 89%)

South African Airways – 93.68%
Airlink – 92.96%
Mango – 89.44%
British Airways Domestic – 85.53%
South African Express – 85.10%
1time – 84.98% – 71.35%