The world’s most punctual airlines will help you avoid travel delays

One of the most annoying problems for travellers is arriving at the airport only to find your flight has been delayed. But with a new list of the world’s most punctual airlines, avoiding that situation could be easier than ever.

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The best airlines for punctuality. Image by Yiu Yu Hoi/Getty Images

The OAG Punctuality League 2019 is a ranking of the world’s largest airlines in terms of on-time performance (OTP) - or flights that arrive or depart within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival and departure times. The most punctual airline in the world might surprise you: Copa Airlines in Panama made the top of the list with 89.79% of its flights on time, followed by Latvia’s airBaltic (89.17%) and Hong Kong Airlines (88.11%).

But, larger airlines face more potential delays, so when it comes to the the top “mega airlines” it’s best to look to Chile’s LATAM Airlines Group (85.60%), followed by All Nippon Airways (84.43%), Japan Airlines (83.99%), Delta Air Lines (83.08%), and Alaska Airlines (82.61%). In North America, the most on-time airlines overall are Hawaiian (87.52%), Delta (83.08%), Alaska (82.61%), Spirit (80.83%), and Southwest (78.20%).

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Travelling has many potential delays, but your airline doesn't have to be one of them. Image by ©Maurizio Milanesio/Shutterstock

If you want to travel on a low-cost carrier, the top five for punctuality are: Azul (85.21%), Jetstar Asia (84.13%), Solaseed (82.90%), Mango (82.88%), and Volaris (82.04%). According to the report, many of Europe’s low-cost airlines fell in this year’s rankings, due to factors beyond their control like industrial action, supplier issues and inclement weather.

“On-time performance is one of the single most important metrics in the travel industry. Every on-time arrival and departure creates a significant trickle-down impact that affects travellers, other airlines and airports, business, travel suppliers and more,” said John Grant, senior analyst with OAG, in a statement.

However, if you want a second opinion, aviation data and analytics company FlightStats just named Delta the world’s most on-time mainline airline in 2018 in its annual On-Time Performance Service (OPS) Awards. That report put Delta in the lead for the second year, with 86.09% of its flights on time, followed by Qatar Airways (85.88%) and KLM (85.04%).