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South African aviation sector scores well in punctuality ranking

24th January 2020 BY: Rebecca Campbell
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Two State-owned aviation sector companies were recently and separately ranked highly in terms of on-time performance (OTP) in international surveys for last year. They are South African Airways (SAA) and Airports Company South Africa (Acsa).

National flag-carrier SAA has been ranked as the number one African airline with regard to OTP. This ranking was done by Cirium, a travel data and analytics business. According to the International Air Transport Association, OTP indicates that an airliner leaves within 15 minutes of its scheduled departure time and arrives within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival time. African airlines were grouped together with Middle Eastern airlines, and, when the Middle Eastern carriers were taken into account, SAA ranked fourth in the combined category.

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SAA’s OTP was rated at 85.69%. “We are encouraged by this latest announcement about our performance,” said SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia. “It is an endorsement and an occasion to celebrate great achievement, especially when judged against our peers globally. Customers always have a choice and those who elect to fly with us recognise that we are a dependable airline.

We place a high premium on punctuality,” she added. “It is one of our most important customer impact performance indicators. The more punctual we are, the happier the customers we keep. Any flight delays could lead to costs for the airline and inconvenience to the customer.”

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Cirium, which works with most of the world’s top 50 airlines, has published its OTP Review for 11 years. “When choosing whom to fly with, savvy travellers also now consider airline punctuality and operational reliability,” affirmed CEO Cirium CEO Jeremy Bowen.

SAA flies to eight intercontinental destinations and is a member of the Star Alliance international airline network. Within South Africa and Africa, it flies to 57 destinations, in partnership with low-cost carrier Mango (part of the SAA group), State-owned regional airline SA Express and private-sector airline Airlink.

Meanwhile, Acsa announced that its – and the country’s – three largest airports had been ranked in the top ten of their respective categories in global punctuality league tables for 2019. These league tables are published by travel data company OAG, using full-year data for last year, which cover several hundred airports and airlines all over the world.

The airports are Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport (in the large airport category), Cape Town International Airport (in the medium airport category) and Durban’s King Shaka International Airport (in the small airport category). OR Tambo ranked tenth in its category, King Shaka ninth in its segment and Cape Town second in its category. OR Tambo’s OTP was 83.01%, King Shaka’s 83.59% and Cape Town’s 92.5%.

“The importance of punctuality and efficiency extends well beyond being items on a business performance scorecard,” affirmed Acsa acting group executive: airports management Deon Cloete. “They are the core components of passenger satisfaction and a critical focus for our airports. Ultimately, OTP creates predictability, which is an essential value-add for passengers.”

He highlighted that an airport was a community of businesses and entities, operating in the same place and in collaboration with one another. An airport community involved the airport owner, airlines, ground handling companies, a wide range of airline supply contractors, and security companies. “Typically, only around 10% of people working at an airport are directly employed by the owner of the airport, in this case Airports Company South Africa.

Keeping an airport operating efficiently is therefore very complex, requires extremely tight collaboration and an ability to respond to events as they happen,” he pointed out. “We are pleased that, as airport communities, we have been able to maintain good levels of OTP and we appreciate the daily efforts of every person working at our airports.”

OAG defines small airports as those with annual figures of between 2.5-million and 5-million departing passengers, medium airports as those with 5-million to 10-million departing passengers and large airports as those with between 10-million and 20-million departing passengers. The OAG tables were calculated from 57.7-million flight records. 

EDITED BY: Martin Zhuwakinyu Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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