Flight delays at Canadian airlines far outstrip peers in U.S., despite improvements

Flight delays at Canadian airlines far outstrip peers in U.S., despite improvements

MONTREAL — Figures from an aviation data firm show Canada’s two biggest airlines see a far higher proportion of their flights delayed compared with many of their peers abroad.

Statistics from Cirium reveal that about 50% Air Canada’s flights were on time in the final two weeks of June and the first two weeks of July overall.

Meanwhile about 36% of WestJet’s flights touched down within the 15 minute window of their scheduled arrival that is considered on time.

The numbers compare with on-time percentages ranging between the high 60s and low 80s for the five biggest airlines in the United States.

The figures also show that between 93% and 98% of the two Canadian carriers’ planes hit the gate less than two hours late, indicating that Air Canada and WestJet have a better record than in the travel chaos of last summer.

John Gradek, a lecturer at McGill University’s aviation management program, says airlines are running their planes too hard and leaving too little time for maintenance, resulting in hitches that hold up passengers across the country.

Last week, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority released its mid-summer performance update, which showed that the passenger experience at Toronto Pearson (YYZ) has significantly improved since summer 2022 thanks to digital innovations, new staff hires and expedited check-in and boarding processes. The airport, according to Flight Aware, currently ranks 17th in the on-time performance global ranking versus last place at the height of the industry restart.

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