New research shows which airlines and airports topped the list for on-time performance in 2023. Cirium, an aviation analytics firm, racked about 3 million flights around the world every month. U.S. legacy airlines and airports fared well against international competitors except for the "low-cost carriers" category, where American carriers did not break into the top 10.
And the winner is…
Airline performance was ranked within each continent and globally at a low cost regarding on-time arrivals. Airport performance was ranked based on size in terms of on-time departures.
A flight is considered on time if it lands or takes off within 15 minutes of the published scheduled time. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimated in 2022 that every minute of delay for an aircraft costs around $100. Delays cost the industry over $1 billion every year.
North American airlines most on-time carriers
Delta Airlines topped the North American airlines ranking. Our continent is also home to four of the five largest passenger airlines worldwide, according to Cirium. The top 10 airlines achieved a 74.45% on-time rate for the year's over 8 million flights, besting 2022's rate by 0.19%.
"The industry has experienced a whirlwind of developments, including a continuous increase in travel demand after the pandemic, strain on airport infrastructure, labor shortages, and rising fuel costs," wrote Cirium's Product Marketing Director, James Hetzel, in the report. "Additionally, the diverse routes and varying weather conditions in North America present additional complexities for airline operations."
Global airlines most on-time carriers
Globally, U.S. airlines Delta and American came in fourth and tenth in the top 10. The winners had an 83.67% on-time arrival rate for almost 6 million flights.
Top 20 global airports
The group had 78.16% on-time departures. That accounts for 6.7 million flights, over a billion total seats and 2,777 routes.
Hopefully, airlines and airports can keep up with a growing demand for air travel as we head into 2024.
"2024 is expected to be a milestone for global passenger traffic as it reaches 9.4 billion passengers, surpassing the year 2019 that welcomed 9.2 billion passengers (102.5% of the 2019 level)," wrote Luis Felipe de Olivera, ACI World Director General and Cirium Advisory Board Member.
Top 20 medium airports
Flight cancellations at lowest rates in a decade
While there were a few turbulent bumps for airline passengers in 2023, with unexpected delays and cancellations occasionally making headlines due to weather, staffing and growing pains after the COVID-19 slash in travel, the overall data showed positive trends for passengers.
Domestic airlines celebrated the lowest cancelation rate in a decade at 1.2%. This comes after a high of 2.4% and 2.3% in 2014 and 2022, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Transportation Safety Administration also declared 2023 the busiest year for air travel since recordkeeping began.