The nation’s two largest airlines ranked last in on-time performance among major North American carriers last month, according to a new report.
Nearly 28 percent of Air Canada’s flights, or more than 8,700, landed at the end of October, placing the company ninth out of ten airlines on the continent, according to aviation data company Cirium.
WestJet comes in last place with almost 29 percent of arrivals late, meaning more than 15 minutes after scheduled arrival.
The two airlines’ on-time performance percentages reached 72 percent and 71 percent, respectively, which is below the North American average of 80 percent – itself the lowest performance of any region tracked in the report, including Europe and Latin America. and the Middle East and Africa. Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines all ranked north of 85 percent.
Still, Air Canada’s result marks an improvement from its 68 percent score the previous month and represents an even bigger gain from the summer.
WestJet confirmed Cirium’s numbers and said a myriad of factors contributed to the results, “including a weather event that impacted our Calgary operations at the end of the month.”
“We are pleased with our on-time performance year-to-date and the meticulous planning that has ensured that our operations during peak travel periods are safe and reliable for those who travel on our network every day,” he said. declared the WestJet spokesperson. » Madison Kruger said in an email.
Air Canada did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
In the past, he has pointed to a shortage of air traffic controllers, bad weather and a network running at full capacity in the face of high demand, which can lead to longer recovery times after a disruption.
CEO Michael Rousseau recently acknowledged Air Canada’s relatively low ranking, particularly after a rash of flight delays in June and July.
Despite more staff and revamped technology, the carrier’s operations failed to reach “expected levels,” he told a**lysts on an August conference call.
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The chief executive identified “severe weather” – thunderstorms in particular – and “global supply chain issues” among the culprits.
“We spend a lot of time improving our punctuality,” he said. Rousseau cited April and May as “very strong” and the following two months as worse, when about half of all flights were late.
He also acknowledged that high load factors – when all planes are almost fully booked – effectively lead to more “traffic spillover” after flights are canceled, as pa*sengers rush to rebook with competitors and may arrive hours or days later than expected.
“If a plane goes down, for whatever reason – mechanical problems can occur – there is no backup,” said John Gradek, who teaches aviation management at McGill University and has worked at Air Canada for 18 years.
“They’d rather have the planes flying than have the planes lying around just in case,” he said. “The problem is, when the just in case happens, you’re in a deep state of mind.”
The sector’s strained capacities also extend to the workforce, from pilots to baggage handlers. In July, the International Air Transport Association called out North American air traffic control agencies, including Nav Canada, for staffing shortages that “continue to produce unacceptable delays and disruptions.”
Nav Canada has acknowledged that some delays at the country’s largest airports are partly linked to a shortage of air traffic controllers.
As planes wait to land, time spent circling the runway can add hours to flight crews’ shifts each week, pushing them closer to their 28-day cap and leaving them less room to maneuver to fill the gaps in the calendar by the end of the month.
At the same time, late arrivals mean a shorter window to perform preventive maintenance between overnight flights, which can lead to mechanical issues and more delays in the long run.
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