While delayed departures can infuriate passengers, it is often possible to make up lost time during the flight. However, late arrivals can mean missed connections, angry passengers, and reduced brand loyalty. The most punctual airlines, despite sometimes unavoidable factors such as adverse weather, can avoid the costs and impact delays have on productivity while maintaining or even increasing customer perception of their brand.

On-time performance (OTP) provides a standardised means of comparing how well one service provider operates according to its published schedule compared to others.

In aviation, an airline departure or arrival considered to be on time for OTP purposes must depart or arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. Flight OTP can generally be influenced by the performance of airlines and airports, and is therefore used as a key performance indicator for airlines and airports.

When it comes to punctual airlines, the term On-Time Arrival (OTA) is the key OTP metric to look at. OTA is defined as when a passenger flight or aircraft arrives at the gate within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. OTA is usually used to rank airlines, whereas on-time departure (OTD) metrics are commonly used to rank airports.

So, here are the top ten most punctual airlines, by on-time performance, according to data from aviation analytics company Cirium.

10. American Airlines

US-based American Airlines recorded 80.61% OTA in 2023. One of the biggest airlines in the world in terms of revenue, and recorded a flight completion factor of 98.93% out of 1,998,844 flights. In fact, American Airlines operates 6,800 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in 48 countries – making it the airline that carries the most passengers per year. With more flights comes a higher probability of delays, so to rank 10th in the world is an impressive achievement for American Airlines.

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9. Saudia

Saudia, formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, is the flag carrier for Saudi Arabia. The Jeddah-based airline achieved 81.29% OTA with a completion factor of 99.80% out of 174,256 flights. The SkyTeam airline alliance member operates flights to over 100 destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America; using its fleet of 156 aircraft.

8. Japan Airlines

Japanese flag carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) operates flights to 91 destinations – 60 domestic and 39 international – in North America, Europe, and Asia. The airline’s fleet is comprised of 143 wide-body and narrow-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft. JAL recorded 82.58% OTA in 2023, with a flight completion factor of 98.59% out of 308,302 flights.

7. All Nippon Airways

The second Japanese airline to feature on this list, All Nippon Airways (ANA) operates flights to 92 destinations – 45 domestic and 47 international – in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Star Alliance member achieved 82.75% OTA, making it the most punctual airline in Asia. ANA achieved a flight completion factor of 98.89% out of 302,279 flights, using its fleet of 214 Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

6. LATAM Airlines

Chilean flag carrier LATAM Airlines (formerly known as LAN Chile), is the predominant airline in Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. LATAM was formed in 2012 following LAN’s acquisition of Brazilian airline TAM Linhas Aéreas as a merger of the two carriers. The largest airline in South America, LATAM recorded 84.00% OTA at its 145 destinations, with a completion factor of 98.80% out of 508,722 flights.

5. Iberia

Spain’s flag carrier Iberia operates flights to over 109 destinations in 39 countries, and a further 90 destinations through code-sharing agreements with other airlines using its fleet of 89 Airbus aircraft. Iberia, which merged with British Airways in 2011, recorded 84.38% OTA in 2023, with a flight completion factor of 98.69% out of 170,750 flights – making the Oneworld Alliance member the most punctual airline in Europe.

4. Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is the oldest operating airline in the US and the seventh oldest in the world. Based in Atlanta, home to the busiest airport in the world, Delta operates over 5,400 flights daily and serves 325 destinations in 52 countries. The airline, which has the highest turnover of all airlines globally, achieved 84.72% OTA with a completion factor of 98.82% out of 1,635,486 flights. As with American Airlines, achieving such a high OTP ranking considering that Delta operates over 1.5 million flights per year, making it the most punctual airline in the US, is a monumental achievement.

Qatar Airlines planes lined up at Hamad Airport in Doha. Qatar will host the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

3. Qatar Airways

Qatar’s flag carrier Qatar Airways achieved 85.11% OTA last year with a flight completion factor of 98.32% out of 183,090 flights – making the Oneworld Alliance member the most punctual carrier in the Middle East. The airline operates a hub-and-spoke network, flying its fleet of over 258 aircraft to 198 international across five continents from its base at Hamad International Airport.

2. Azul

Low-cost Brazilian airline Azul Brazilian Airlines (Azul) serves routes to 161 destinations in Brazil, Curaçao, France, Portugal, Uruguay, and the US; using its fleet of 167 aircraft. Founded in 2008 by the founder of American low-cost airline JetBlue, Azul achieved 85.51% OTA in 2023, with a completion factor of 97.12% out of 310,972 flights.

1. Avianca 

Columbian flag carrier Avianca is the largest airline in the country, and the most punctual airline in the world. The second largest airline in South America, Avianca operates to 74 destinations with its fleet of 123 aircraft. The Star Alliance member is the world’s second oldest extant airline – after KLM – tracing its history back to 1919 as Sociedad Colombo Alemana de Transportes Aéreos (SCADTA), the world’s second airline and the first airline in Latin America. Aviance achieved 85.73% OTA in 2023, with a flight completion factor of 99.08% out of 213,039 flights.