Assessing the Impact of On-Time Performance for Airports

Guest Author by Guest Author | Jul 13, 2023

By Jeremy Bowen, CEO, Cirium

As we know, airports are complex and highly networked systems that require precision, collaboration, and integration between many stakeholders, including airlines, ground handlers, regulatory authorities, and airport operators. Among these stakeholders, on-time performance is one of the most crucial KPIs that determines the quality of service, customer satisfaction, and smooth running of the airport. On-time performance denotes the percentage of flights that arrive or depart at the scheduled time, and in the case of airports, the on-time performance of departures is most closely watched.

Why on-time performance matters:

  • The financial impact of on-time performance for airports

    On-time performance is not just a matter of punctuality. It has a direct impact on the airport’s revenue and costs. For instance, airlines normally pay a higher landing fee if they arrive or depart outside the designated time window. However, delayed flights increase the chances of missed connections, which in turn affects the passenger experience and often leads to compensation claims from disgruntled passengers against airline partners, and possibly reputational damage as well.
  • The operational impact of on-time performance

On-time performance is also a critical factor that affects the smoothness and efficiency of the airport’s operations. Delays and disruptions often cause congestion, delay ground handling operations, increase the waiting time for passengers, and even lead to flight cancellations. This in turn, triggers a ripple effect on the airport’s capacity, safety, and security and creates a backlog that could take hours or even days to resolve.

  • The passenger impact of on-time performance

Passengers are the ultimate beneficiaries of on-time performance. They expect their flights to depart and arrive on time, without any inconvenience or delay. Their expectations are very high! When flights are delayed or cancelled, passengers experience frustration and anxiety, which negatively impacts their entire travel experience. This leads to negative reviews, complaints, and social media backlash.

  • The environmental impact of on-time performance

On-time performance has a considerable impact on the environment. Aircraft engines consume extra fuel while at the airport, both at the gate and while taxiing, so any delay or hold-up results in unnecessary fuel burn which impacts sustainability targets.

How to improve airport on-time performance

To improve on-time performance, airports and their stakeholders should adopt a proactive approach that focuses on collaboration, communication, and information sharing:

  • Airlines should provide accurate and timely information about their flight schedules, anticipated delays, and other relevant information.
  • Ground handlers should ensure they have adequate resources, equipment, and personnel to handle flights efficiently.
  • Airport operators should invest in technology and data analytics to monitor and optimize airport operations, anticipate disruptions, and communicate real-time information to all stakeholders.

On-time performance is a critical success factor for airports and should be prioritized by all stakeholders involved. By improving on-time performance, using accurate as well as sophisticated data, airports can optimize their financial sustainability, improve operational efficiency, enhance the passenger experience, and reduce their environmental footprints.

Jeremy Bowen is the CEO of Cirium, the aviation analytics company that is helping to shape an intelligent future for air travel.

Cirium is part of the global information- based analytics company RELX. Jeremy originally joined its FlightGlobal brand, the aviation arm of RELX, in 2018. He became CEO in 2019 during the same period as the company rebranded to Cirium, after significantly growing its data portfolio with the acquisitions of Diio, FlightStats, Ascend and Innovata. At the same time, Jeremy led the divestment of its legacy publishing business, FlightGlobal.  

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