QantasLink Is Australia’s Most Punctual Carrier

QantasLink was Australia’s most punctual domestic carrier across September 2019. It managed to stick to schedule 82.6% of the time over the month. At the other end of the field, Virgin Australia’s low cost carrier Tiger Airways, managed to arrive and depart on schedule just 64.5% of the time last month. It pipped rival regional carrier, REX, to the winning post by just 0.3%.

QantasLink was Australia’s most punctual domestic carrier over September 2019. Photo: Qantas News Room.

The September 2019 Domestic on time performance statistics were originally published by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development (BITRE) and reported on in Australian Aviation. Both highlight a whole host of interesting facts and figures.

QantasLink is a group of airlines (some wholly or partially owned by Qantas and some not at all) that fly regional services under Qantas branding. The QantasLink fleet includes Airbus A320-200s operated by Network Aviation, Boeing 717-200s operated by National Jet Systems, Dash 8-200s and Bombardier Q300s operated by Eastern Australia Airlines, Bombardier Q400s operated by Sunstate Airlines and Fokker 100s operated by Network Aviation.

QantasLink operated 10,090 flights in September 2019. Some 82.9% of these flights departed on time and 82.3% of these flights arrived on time. Note that BITRE defines an on time departure or arrival as within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.

Given the amount of padding most of Australia’s domestic airlines built into their schedules and some of the lightly trafficked airports QantasLink use, you’d expect the airline to perform well. QantasLink’s only real chokepoint is Sydney Airport.

Good punctuality and not so good punctuality

The route where QantasLink performed best was Cairns – Townsville. Some 93.7% of its departures and 92.3% of its arrivals were on time in September 2019. It also performed admirably on the reverse sectors. But this isn’t the world’s busiest piece of airspace.

Things were a bit more crook down on the busier Canberra – Sydney route where 241 services were operated by QantasLink in September. Some 74.7% of arrivals and 77.7% of departures were on time.

Flying through a lot of lightly trafficked airspace and into quieter airports helps QantasLink in the punctuality stakes. Photo: Qantas News Room.

Another distinctly unpunctual QantasLink route was Hamilton Island – Brisbane. There’s only one QantasLink service a day on this route but only 51.3% of arrivals and 59.4% of departures were on time. 

The table below provides a broader snapshot of on time performance in September 2019.

On time arrivals  (%) On time departures  (%) Overall on time


QantasLink 82.3 82.9 82.6
Regional Express 80.5 84.2 82.3
VARA 75.6 80.5 78.0
Qantas 75.1 78.3 76.7
Virgin Australia 74.6 78.0 76.3
Jetstar 72.1 71.1 71.6
Tiger Airways 63.0 66.3 64.5
Industry Average (%) 74.7 77.3 76.0


The regional airlines performed best in the punctuality stakes. Neither Qantas or Virgin Australia covered themselves in glory. Jetstar’s stats possibly surprise some people who bemoan the airline’s lack of punctuality. I’ve flown Jetstar a fair bit in 2019 and I think they’ve improved their ground handling and turnaround efficacy at the airports out of sight (contributing to vaguely respectable if not great punctuality levels last month). Or maybe it was just luck on my part. 

Tiger Airways is the perennial punctuality laggard. Photo: John via Flickr.

Tiger remains the perennial laggard. The issue with Tiger is that they have no slack in their fleet or scheduling. If something gives early in the day with an aircraft, it has knock-on effects throughout the remainder of the day. 

Simple Flying has approached Qantas seeking comment regarding QantasLink’s first prize in September’s punctuality stakes. We haven’t heard back from them yet.