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Air Canada has worst on-time performance among North American carriers: Cirium

A worker sprays de-icer on an Air Canada plane during a winter storm at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., February 28, 2023.     REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Air Canada had the worst on-time performance among the largest airlines in North America in 2023, according to a new report released on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder) (REUTERS / Reuters)

Air Canada (AC.TO) had the worst on-time performance among the largest airlines in North America in 2023, according to a new report released on Tuesday.

Aviation analytics firm Cirium says 63 per cent of the more than 376,000 flights Air Canada flew last year arrived on time, meaning the flights landed within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. That put the airline in last place among the 10 largest North American carriers, behind JetBlue Airways (with a 68 per cent on-time arrival rate) and Frontier Airlines (69 per cent.)

WestJet Airlines ranked 7th, with 69 per cent of the more than 182,000 flights flown in 2023 landing on time. Delta Air Lines topped the list of North American airlines, with 85 per cent of its more than 1.6 million flights flown landing on time.

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While the Canadian airlines lag many of their American competitors, last year’s on-time arrival rates are an improvement from the prior year, which was marred by delays, cancellations and airport chaos across the country. In 2022, Air Canada was ranked last, with 55 per cent of the more than 150,000 flights it flew arriving on time. WestJet ranked 9th in 2022, with 59 per cent of the nearly 95,000 flights it flew arriving on time.

Last year saw pent-up travel demand remain strong, particularly during the peak summer travel season, as operations at Canadian airports improved from 2022.

Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau said on the company’s most recent quarterly conference call in October that the peak summer travel season put “extra pressure on the operations”, but that on-time performance “progressively improved.”

Travel demand has so far remained resilient in Canada, although the post-pandemic pent-up demand appears to be tapering off. At the same time, Statistics Canada reported that airfares fell 17.4 per cent in November compared to the same month in 2022.

"In 2023, North American airlines underwent a remarkable transformation," Cirium product marketing director James Hetzel said in the report.

"As we look ahead to 2024, we anticipate sustained operational excellence as challenges arising from labour shortages and airport infrastructure are gradually addressed and resolved."

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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