Hong Kong aviation

Best and worst airlines and routes revealed in database of 26,000 Hong Kong flight delays

Data gathering exercise by Post’s interactive news team shines spotlight on worst offenders for delays at Hong Kong International Airport

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 8:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 11:34pm

When booking a flight, go for one that takes off in the morning – it is the best time to avoid delays.

That conclusion and a host of others are the result of a month-long data gathering exercise by the Post’s interactive news team using figures from plane tracker service Flightradar24.

Unsurprisingly, morning flights are the least likely to be held up, with fewer than 20 per cent reaching their destination more than 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival time.

Afternoon flights on the other hand are more likely to suffer delays that knock back arrival by about 40 minutes on average.

A database has been put together by the Post team to show the best times to fly out of Hong Kong International Airport, average delays, as well as the best and worst carriers and routes.

The investigation comes after a Post report in November revealed how airlines had used a myriad of creative ways to polish up their punctuality rates.

Some carriers and routes were excluded from the data because the number of flights operated by those airlines or on those routes was so few that any delays would not have a significant impact on Hong Kong passengers.

The data gathered over the past 28 days includes 26,000 flights. It paints a picture of how some of Hong Kong’s most popular airlines and routes stack up against each other in scheduling. Read on ...

Least punctual airlines

National carrier Air China was the worst offender for delays over the past month, with 50 per cent of its flights not on time. It operated 10 flights out of Hong Kong daily. Next was Thai Airways, with 48 per cent delayed. It had seven flights leaving the city a day. Third worst was Air Asia Malaysia, with 42 per cent of flights held up, out of its six daily.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways emerged as the most punctual airline, with its six daily departing flights only subject to hold-ups 7 per cent of the time.

Best and worst routes

Flights to Hangzhou, Manila and Kuala Lumpur were the worst performing routes, with almost one in three delayed each day. These destinations had six, 18 and 12 flights serving them daily from Hong Kong, respectively.

Hong Kong Express the ‘least punctual’ among city’s carriers with 3 in 10 flights late in November

Jetting off to Dubai or Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda airports was most likely to keep you on time. Five, 16 and seven flights served these routes daily, respectively. Only 6 per cent of Dubai flights were delayed, while the two Tokyo airports were hit by hold-ups just 12 per cent of the time despite them being heavily congested.

How Hong Kong’s airlines stack up

Cathay Pacific Airways, the dominant airline in the city with an average of 125 flights departing per day, experienced delays only 17.6 per cent of the time.

Cathay Dragon, with 85 daily departures, fared the worst of all the local airlines, with one in five flights suffering delays.

Competitor Hong Kong Airlines, which has been accused of padding out flight schedules with extra time to meet punctuality targets, saw only 14 per cent of flights delayed among its 52 daily departures.

How Hong Kong Airlines became the world’s most punctual carrier

Low-cost carrier Hong Kong Express, which was ordered by the city’s civil aviation regulator to stop the expansion of its business after a series of missteps over flight cancellations in October, saw almost one in five of its 30 daily flights left waiting.

Air traffic control delays

Flights to China’s business and financial centre Shanghai were some of the most heavily delayed, with air traffic control frequently holding up or even cancelling flights.

Almost a third of the 202 weekly flights to the city experienced delays, and the route also suffered the most cancellations. The average delay was 53 minutes but more often than not stretched to 90 minutes during the daytime.