Kenya Airways falls in global airline ratings on punctuality

A Kenya Airways plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE
A Kenya Airways plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya Airways has lost ground in international ratings on punctuality, emerging sixth in the Middle East and Africa region last year.

FlightStats, an international aviation insights company, says the national carrier arrived punctually 66.69 per cent of the time based on the schedules it promised about 6.42 million passengers last year.

This marks a slip from 2015 when the national carrier, known by its international code as KQ, came in fourth in the region under review with a 74.11 per cent on time performance (OTP) and second in 2014 when it was 78.92 per cent punctual.

“For an airline to be considered within an awards category, certain requirements must be met,” FlightStats said while releasing this year’s edition of the annual rankings.

“These requirements include the total annual scheduled passenger flights, the geographical nature of their route network and the degree to which FlightStats is able to acquire flight status data.”

FlightStats compiles its report based on data from flight-tracking and positional services, airport runway times, radar services, airline records as well as from airport governing bodies.

Qatar Airlines was for the second consecutive year ranked top with an arrival punctuality rating of 86.34 per cent while Saudi Arabian Airlines came in second with a score of 79.92 per cent.

KQ lost ground to Ethiopian Airlines and Flydubai which were ranked fourth and fifth respectively having been 71.05 per cent and 69.79 per cent punctuality to their destinations.

Emirates was third with an OTP score of 78.85 per cent.

In Kenya Airways’ case, the aviation data company said it was able to track flight data on 89.5 per cent (or 52,221) of the airline’s scheduled flights which was equivalent to 6.42 million seats.

Kenya Airways, in its latest annual report, places its OTP for the year to March as 77 per cent — which is well below the previous year’s 94 per cent as well as its 2016 target of 85 per cent.

“The top four delay contributors for the 2015/2016 financial year were ramp handling, flight deck crew shortage, aircraft serviceability and air traffic control restrictions,” KQ states.

“The technical department was a regular contributor to the low OTP throughout the year due to the increased aircraft on ground situations on the older fleet,” adding that similar challenges were experienced with its new fleet at outstations.

A mixture of technical issues and numerous staff disturbances at KQ last year saw thousands of its passengers miss their flights or see them delayed for lengthy hours.

A week to Christmas, for instance, several domestic KQ flights were delayed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Kisumu International Airport, leaving dozens of passengers stranded and angry.

On December 5, nine of the carrier’s flights were delayed after some of the company’s technical workers failed to show up for work.

Three months earlier, multiple flights were again delayed following a bird strike and a tyre burst.

This financial year, KQ says it will focus on domestic and regional flights due to tight rotations of its aircraft and crew as well act on controllable delays within its operational departments by identifying and addressing the root causes.

“I’m seeing a big improvement in overall performance across the board as the industry becomes more and more competitive. It’s a huge win for travelers,” Jim Hetzel, the FlightStats’ vice president of aviation and distribution, told Bloomberg.