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Some airlines make on-time performance a priority while others focus on other in-flight service standards but airline travel intelligence company OAG said Delta Air Lines and Qantas were clear winners in 2016 for keeping flights on schedule.

Delta’s on-time performance (84.29 percent) for full-year 2016 ranked ahead of the other two U.S. legacy carriers — American and United — and behind Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines, according to an OAG report that considered 54 million flights from hundreds of airlines that were operated last year.

OAG’s analysis points out Delta is the largest airline by most flights operated to make its top 20 ranking for most on-time airlines in 2016 and operated the second highest number of flights of any global airline last year. “The thing that stuck out to me more than anything is how strong Delta has been across four of their five major hub airports,” said John Grant, senior analyst at OAG. “We’ve seen that Delta has actually targeted on-time performance as a key differentiator, particularly against United. They’ve worked on it and it looks like it’s been very successful for them.”

Grant said Qantas has also made punctuality one of the main tenants of their turnaround program during the past two years. The airline, with 87.5 percent of its flights on-time, was the most on-time for Asia-Pacific carriers and the fourth most on-time overall. “Punctuality performance and restoring business travelers’ faith has been a part of this journey,” he said.

Though Delta, Qantas and other carriers made improvements this year that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that many mainline carriers have regional counterparts that usually help out the most with punctuality, for example, and can outweigh poor performance on mainlines, such as United Express and United. A new law that takes effect this year will require major U.S. carriers to report on-time performance of half a dozen regional carriers as regulators aim to make monthly performance at the major carriers reflect how well their regional operations did.

Making sure airlines stay on schedule is more important than ever as mainline carriers increasingly face heat from low-cost competitors that threaten to take on their turf and disrupt the market, said Grant. “As we see more low-cost long-haul and we see greater commoditization of that economy product between the mainstream long-haul airlines and low-cost long-haul airlines as they continue to emerge punctuality is going to be a key differentiator.”

There is no shortage of factors that influence airline punctuality and the past year had plenty of examples, from French air traffic control strikes to Lufthansa’s crew strikes to Delta’s network failure. But airlines committed to getting in on-time throughout the year usually recover from these singular, isolated events, said Grant.

Below we look at the full ranking for the top 20 global airlines, low-cost carriers and airports.

Chart 1: Hawaiian Airlines was the most on-time airline in 2016 with 89.8 percent of flights arriving on time, likely thanks to favorable weather.

RankAirlineOn-Time Performance in 2016
1Hawaiian Airlines89.87%
2Copa Airlines88.75%
4Qantas Airways87.56%
5Japan Airlines86.74%
7Alaska Airlines86.05%
9Monarch Airlines85.67%
10Sinapore Airlines85.19%
11Austrian Airlines84.89%
12All Nippon Airways84.71%
14Virgin Australia84.52%
15Delta Air Lines84.29%
18Aer Lingus83.97%
19Gulf Air82.70%

Chart 2: Several European and Asian low-cost carriers rank at the top of the low-cost ranking while U.S. low-cost carriers rank towards the bottom.

RankAirlineOn-Time Performance in 2016
1Monarch Airlines85.67%
8Norwegian Air Shuttle79.23%
9Thai AirAsia78.60%
10Skymark Airlines78.32%
12Frontier Airlines76.70%
13Virgin America76.40%
14IndiGo Air75.27%
17Spring Airlines74.50%
18Spirit Airlines73.92%
19Jetstar Airways73.66%

Chart 3: Some 11 of the top 20 major airports for best on-time performance in 2016 are U.S. airports, including Detroit, Atlanta and Dallas Fort/Worth.

RankAirportOn-Time Performance in 2016
1Tokyo Haneda87.49%
2Sao Paulo Guarulhos85.28%
4Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson84.67%
7Moscow Sheremetyevo83.52%
8Singapore Changi83.49%
12Houston George Bush82.21%
16Madrid Barajas80.93%
17Dallas/Fort Worth80.16%
18Orlando MCO80.12%
19Las Vegas80.11%
20Amsterdam Schiphol79.77%

Source: OAG

Photo Credit: Pictured is a business traveler checking a departure board for a connecting flight at Frankfurt Airport, where 81.17 percent of flights arrived on-time in 2016. Dan Peltier / Skift