Most On-Time Airlines in 2016

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A Matter of Time

Depending on what type of shopper you are, reliability might be a big reason why you do (or don’t) buy something. Some consumers would prefer to shell out more cash in order to have a sense of reliability. Airlines, however, are unable to monetize this type of security.

You can pay more for comfort. You can pay more to avoid connections. You can pay more for food.  You can’t, however, pay more to make sure your flight is on time.

Instead, you can know what airlines you can depend on. These airlines are mostly likely to get you where you’re going, at the pre-determined time. Best part? It won’t cost you a dime.

FlightStats, a leading voice in airline industry analytics, has released the winners of their Annual Airline On-Time Performance Service Awards. This is their 8th year reporting on what airlines had the highest percentage of all aircraft movements leave on time.

Here are the winners of each region. Scroll to the bottom to see who was the most on-time major international airline, globally,  for 2016.





Alaska Airlines might not have the largest fleet in North America, but they do that the most punctual flights. If that’s not enough, Alaska’s planes are typically newer than competitors. Alaska Airlines’ planes have an average age of  8.5 years. [7]. This is significantly lower than other North American airlines. For example, Delta, who placed second in this category, has an average age of 16.9 years for their planes.[8] If you’ve never considered flying Alaska Airlines, now is a good time to reconsider.

Other finalists include United, and budget-friendly airlines, WestJet and Southwest. These airlines all had at least 81% of flights on-time for 2016.





Japan Airlines outshined all other airlines catering to the Asia-Pacific Region. ANA, who placed third in this category, is the largest airline in Japan. It looks like bigger isn’t always better when it comes to punctuality. With 541 international routes, it seems JAL is making up their fleets size by offering more international routes [1]. They’ve also recently decided to explore Microsoft’s holographic technology to train their mechanics. [2]  Japan Airlines is raising their standards, leading us to believe 2017 will be a promising year for them.

Other finalists include Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, and Qantas, whose flights were all on time at least 84% of the time.




As much as Iberia may be disappointed in placing second in the Major International Airlines segment, they did take home a #1 spot in their region. The Madrid-based airline merged with British Airways back in 2011.  This would form their parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG).  IAG would later acquire most of Ireland’s Aer Lingus.[3] They are now 7th largest airline company in the world.[4]  Between this win and the backing of IAG, competing airlines should keep their eye out for Iberia in 2017.





Panama’s flag carrier won the Latin-American category by being on-time 89% of the time. That’s better than any airlines listed here! It seems that Copa Airlines didn’t meet the requirements to compete in FlightStats’ Major International Airlines category. If they did, they would have been the most punctual international airline, overall. Although not as popular as other winners, this roughly-70-year-old airline is showing major carriers it can compete with the best of them…at least when it comes to being on-time.

The runner-up for this segment, TAM Linhas Aereas, lost by over 4%. Other finalists include GOL, Aerolíneas Argentinas, and LAN Airlines, who were on time at least 80% of the time.





Qatar Airways, a popular choice among those flying within the Middle East, has won the most on-time Middle Eastern or African airline. Qatar was over 5% more likely to be on-time than the runner-up, Saudia.

Their direct competitor, Emirates, has been making headlines recently for their first class. Unlike Emirates and Etihad, Qatar hasn’t been making waves regarding luxury travel. Instead, they appear to be more aligned to reliance and practicality, a strength that benefits all passengers.

As Qatar Airways Senior Vice President of Customer Experience said, Qatar strives to “continually surprise and delight our passengers in every class of cabin.”[5] This comes after an announcement of their new amenity kits. Most airlines reserve amenity kits for premium flyers, but not Qatar. Their new kits are for economy flyers. The kits include “an Institut Karité Paris lip balm and a Miradent dental kit alongside their eye mask, socks and ear plugs.”[6]  Between this win and the new economy amenity kits, it seems that Qatar is catering to a segment skimmed over by competitors.

Other finalists include Saudia, Ethiopian Airlines, and flydubai. They were all on-schedule at least 69% of the time.






This flag carrier has a long history dating back to 1919 when it was created to serve those flying in the Netherlands and its colonies. [9] Now, they can add “Winner of FlightStats’ On-time Performance Service Awards 2016” to their history book. Wonder what makes Royal Dutch Airlines worthy of being “Royal?” Ask the Queen! Queen Wilhelmina bestowed their title of being “royal,” before KLM was officially founded. [x] Looks like the Queen’s intuition proved true.

Finalists for this category include Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qatar, and Austrian. All these major international airlines had at least 85% of all flights on-time.


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The New Year Means Better Choices

Maybe service, food, or comfort take precedent in your decision to book with an airline. You should always choose a service that fulfills your needs. Those concerned with making a connecting flight, or have time-sensitive schedules, will benefit most from flying with one of the most on-time airlines in 2016.

How your flight goes can often set the tone for the rest of your trip. Those traveling recreationally don’t want their vacation time damped by missing their connecting flight. Business travelers are usually stressed enough.  Worrying that they’ll have to rearrange plans is an additional hassle that can set a bad tone for the rest of the trip. You can book a business class ticket for priority seating, comfort, and luxurious amenities. It won’t, however,  prevent delays.

The New Year is a time for self-improvement and breaking old habits. Start a new habit when you fly. Choose an airline that has proved that they’re the best, whether it’s service, seats, or punctuality. A better airline is the best way to reassure you’ll have a better trip. You can buy reassurance, but you can find it when you fly with these trusted airlines.