Top 10 Most Punctual Airlines in North America

Top 10 Most Punctual Airlines in North America

DALLAS — Delta Air Lines (DL) is North America’s most punctual airline for the second year in a row. According to the data from data analytics company Cirium, DL topped the list with an on-time arrival rate of 83.63% in 2022.

Cirium tracked over five million flights in North America last year, which accounted for over 99% of flights operating across the continent. For a flight to be on time based on Cirium’s definition, it must arrive at the gate within 15 minutes (14:59 minutes to be precise) of its scheduled arrival time. Most airlines follow Cirium’s definition of on-time performance, even though it is not codified by any of the aviation regulatory bodies.

Cirium publishes an annual as well as a monthly On-Time Performance (OTP) Review, which measures the OTP of most airlines and airports across the globe. Last year, around 71.91% of flights arrived on time in North America, led by DL. United Airlines (UA) and Alaska Airlines (AS) ranked second and third with an on-time arrival rate of 80.46% and 80.36%, respectively.

Delta held the top spot with the most on-time arrivals in North America for eight of the eleven months the report analyzed. It was followed by United Airlines (UA).

The Atlanta-based carrier had held the top spot for four consecutive months twice. Whereas, AS was at the number one spot for three consecutive months in between DL’s commendable run at the top.

Here are the top 10 North American airlines with the best OTP in 2022.

N607CZ, Delta Connection (SkyWest Airlines) Embraer E175 @KSLC. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

1. Delta Air Lines

Number of total flights: 1,004,684

On-time performance: 83.63%

Delta Air Lines was also honored with the Cirium Platinum Award for the second consecutive year for its global operational excellence. This award considers a number of factors, including on-time performance, operational complexity, and an airline’s ability to limit the impact of flight disruptions on its passengers.

“We’re positioned for the balance of this year to stay where we’re at. That level of stability gives the operation the capability to focus on the task at hand.”

Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines

Congratulating Delta Airlines, Cirium’s CEO Jeremy Bowen said, “Congratulations to Delta Air Lines for their excellent punctuality performance in Cirium’s 2022 On-Time Performance Review, getting their passengers to their destinations on time across North America as the market revived during 2022. Ramping back up operations so quickly after an enforced slowdown is not easy to do, and the top-ranked North American airlines in Cirium’s 2022 On-Time Performance Review deserve their recognition for this well-orchestrated achievement.”

N2140U United Airlines Boeing 777-300ER. Photo: Nick Sheeder/Airways

2. United Airlines

Number of total flights: 789,200

On-time performance: 80.46%

N913AK Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 MAX. Photo: Nick Sheeder/Airways

3. Alaska Airlines

Number of total flights: 243,072

On-time performance: 80.36%

N338PK, American Airlines Boeing 737-800 @KSEA.Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

4. American Airlines

Number of total flights: 1,076,100

On-time performance: 78.29%

American Airlines (AA) was the worst-performing of the “big three” US airlines.

N8828L Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 KPAE. Photo: Brandon Siska/Airways

5. Southwest Airlines

Number of total flights: 1,336,888

On-time performance: 74.06%

With over 1.3 million flights, Southwest Airlines (WN) had the highest number of flights tracked in North America last year. Prior to its recent holiday season operational meltdown, the LCC had an on-time performance of around 75%.

Alongside DL, the fourth- and fifth-placed airlines, AA and WN, were the only airlines in North America to surpass one million flights last year, even though DL beat the two Dallas-based carriers by a significant margin in terms of on-time performance.

After facing a tough operational challenge alongside flight cancellations early in the summer, Delta learned a few things and made a few changes to get back on track. According to DL’s CEO, Ed Bastian, the airline made a few changes that led to the airline closing out the year well above its competitors.

The Atlanta-based carrier changed the way it schedules its pilots and cabin crew to ensure more employees were ready to fly on a daily basis.

N351FR, Frontier Airlines Airbus A320neo @KSLC. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

6. Frontier Airlines

Number of total flights: 170,047

On-time performance: 68.32%

N3102J jetBlue Airways Airbus A220-300 KBOS/BOS. Photo: Marat Basaria/Airways

7. JetBlue Airlines

Number of total flights: 343,673

On-time performance: 66.35%

N246NV, Allegiant Air Airbus A320 @KPVU. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

8. Allegiant Airlines

Number of total flights: 117,469

On-time performance: 65.93%

WestJet C-GZSG Boeing 737-8 MAX. Photo: Max Langley/Airways

9. WestJet

Number of total flights: 94,663

On-time performance: 59.10%

C-FVNF Air Canada Boeing 787-9. Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways

10. Air Canada

Number of total flights: 150,602

On-time performance: 54.51%

With the sudden surge in demand for air travel, airlines across Canada suffered staffing issues throughout the year. Notably, Air Canada (AC) suffered a shortage of ground crew members. Alongside, WestJet (WS) and Air Canada (AC), some of the busiest airports across Canada were ranked as some of the world’s worst airports for on-time performance during the summer months last year.

Despite facing harsh weather conditions alongside operational and staffing issues, the “big three” US carriers managed to make it into the global top 10 list of most punctual airlines at the end of 2022. Undoubtedly, Delta led the North American airlines. One of the key factors behind the carrier’s success is its comprehensive contingency plan in place to help minimize the impact of delays or disruptions, along with its major focus on operational efficiency and reliability.

Moreover, DL’s success doesn’t just rely on the airline; it also has a lot to do with the airports it flies out of. DL operates out of some of the most reliable airports in the United States.

Despite holding the top spot in North America, DL’s OTP has decreased from previous years. In 2021, the airline recorded an on-time performance of 87.7%. In 2019, Delta had the highest percentage of on-time arrivals among major U.S. airlines, with an impressive 85.5% of flights arriving on time. Cirium did not publish the review in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nonetheless, the Atlanta-based airline, like most in the region, experienced weather-related delays, maintenance issues, and other unexpected issues last year, as a surge in demand for air travel following the end of pandemic restrictions, combined with widespread staffing issues at airlines and airports, created ripples throughout the industry.

Have you flown on any of the North American airlines mentioned in this list? Be sure to leave your comments on our social media channels.

Featured image: N190DN Delta Airlines Boeing 767-332(ER) B763 JFK KJFK. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways

Sharad Ranabhat mainly covers feature stories alongside other interesting articles. Having written for Sam Chui, Airlive, Travel Radar, Aviation Nepal and others, he aims to cover as many feature stories as possible here at Airways Magazine.

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