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Business News/ Companies / News/  Not just Air India, most airlines have a long-haul punctuality problem
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Not just Air India, most airlines have a long-haul punctuality problem

A peek at flight tracking website FlightRadar24's data shows that On Time Performance (OTP) of all airlines operating non-stop between India and the US have an OTP problem.

Air India recently hit the headlines for its delays in its flight to San Francisco -- first from Mumbai and then from Delhi. Premium
Air India recently hit the headlines for its delays in its flight to San Francisco -- first from Mumbai and then from Delhi. 

Air India recently hit the headlines for delays in its flight to San Francisco, first from Mumbai and then from Delhi. 

After the regulator slapped a notice to the airline, it gave a $350 voucher to passengers who flew on the delayed flight to San Francisco. While Air India is the largest operator of non-stop flights to North America from India, a look at flight tracking website FlightRadar24's data shows that On Time Performance (OTP) of all airlines operating non-stop between India and America have an OTP problem. 

Four airlines operate non-stop services between India and North America. A random flight status check throws up some interesting insights, across airlines operations between May 25 and May 31, 2024. 

Delays galore

American Airlines, which operates a daily non-stop to Delhi from New York, had four flights during the period.  It recorded two delays, one up to three hours and one between three and six hours. United Airlines, which had the second biggest operations between India and the US until curbs were imposed following the Russia-Ukraine war, now operates only one flight a day to India, between Newark and Delhi.

Also Read: Air India gets DGCA's show-cause notice over inordinate flight delay

Air Canada, which operates a daily non-stop flight to Toronto from New Delhi, did not see even a single on-time departure in the period for which review was done. It also saw one cancellation during the week, with delays ranging up to one hour on four occasions and a longer one once. The airline also operates thrice a week service to Montreal and two of its three flights recorded a delay. 

Also read: We could have handled the delays better, says Air India CEO Campbell Wilson

Air India operates about four-fifth of these flights and has been a major beneficiary of the Russia-Ukraine war as the non-stop flights operating  on these markets dwindled, with Canadian and American carriers desisting from flying over Russia. 

Also Read: Ukraine war keeps Air India on top of non-stop routes to US; can the Tata Group airline maintain pole position?

How did Air India perform in the same week? In terms of statistics, it did better, barring the flights to San Francisco. It’s daily flight to New York from Mumbai saw a delay of up to six hours on one of the seven days and two delays of up to an hour. The thrice a week service to Newark was delayed only once. 

Also Read: Air India passenger receives broken seat despite paying extra 1,000; airline issues apology

In the same period, Air India had four scheduled flights to San Francisco from Mumbai, two of which left on time, while two were delayed.  Air India had three scheduled flights from Bengaluru, two of which left on time while one was delayed by over three hours. Flights to New York, which are operated four times a week from Delhi, saw a delay on two occasions and was on time on the other two. This route has seen a mix of B777-300ER and B777-200LR in operation on certain days. 

The Delhi to San Francisco operations were the much discussed ones with a delay ranging over a day. Air India’s flights to Chicago from Delhi, a daily service, saw a near on-time performance the whole week, leaving within minutes of its scheduled departure time and having an on-time arrival on most days. The airline deploys its Dreamliner aircraft to Washington-- it is the only route to North America  on which a Dreamliner is operated. Like Chicago flights, this, too, was on time. 

The airline’s flagship to New York, a daily service from Delhi, also operated on time on six out of seven days. To Canada, the airline operates two flights a day, one to Vancouver and another to Toronto. The airline operated five of seven flights to Vancouver on time, with two delays recorded. The passengers to Toronto were more prone to delays as it was delayed in four out of seven occasions.

Tail Note

Ultra long-haul flying is a different ball game.  From fuel calculations based on wind and routes available to planned alternate destinations and overflying the polar routes, the route planning involves complex scenarios than short haul operations. 

It is standard to have short delays leaving the hub, as airlines wait for connecting passengers, their cargo and commercial cargo. More often than not, this delay is covered up -- by favourable winds or direct routings. Sometimes, it's the way things are handled which cause more damage than the delays themselves. 

Also Read: Vihaan.AI: Air India’s five-year plan to become lord of the skies

Air India, as per its own admission, has fixed the basics as part of its “Taxi" phase - one of the many phases of its ambitious five-year Vihaan.AI turnaround plan. What really impacts Air India more in terms of negative publicity? It has a large capacity and passenger handling efficiencies. 

In the past, even United Airlines has faced such an uproar in Delhi after  its flights were cancelled at the last minute. Unlike Air India, which has its hub at Delhi and the potential to swap aircraft, United or any other foreign carrier has to wait for the aircraft to be repaired or for another aircraft to be flown in.

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Published: 11 Jun 2024, 01:14 PM IST
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