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Published on  24 September by Matthys Serfontein , Vice President, Airport Solution Line, SITA
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Punctuality through operational excellence

Earlier this year Bristol Airport hit the UK newspapers when it was named as the world’s most punctual airport in the OAG Punctuality League with an impressive 94% of flights arriving and departing on time.

However, looking down the league, very few of the largest hub airports achieved punctuality scores as high as that. It’s hardly surprising because they typically have to manage operations with constrained infrastructure on the ground along with a very congested and complex airspace.

Punctuality matters

The problem for airports, airlines and all their operational stakeholders is that punctuality matters and attracts the attention of the press and social media. The unfortunate consequence of poor punctuality records is that passengers will actively look to avoid those airports and airlines.

The operational challenges that airports and airlines face will not garner any sympathy with passengers that have been stranded for five hours waiting for their flight to be ready, for whatever reason, even those fully outside the airport’s control.

In Travel Weekly, Bristol Airport Chief Executive Robert Sinclair acknowledged Bristol’s advantage by operating in relatively uncongested airspace. But he  also pointed to the collaborative approach that all parties in the airport take to drive operational excellence.

So while airports serving busier airspace might not have the luxury of uncongested airspace and quite often have severe runway capacity limitations, they are all able to significantly improve their operational processes. This will allow them to optimize their use of resources – including airspace – to deliver passenger satisfaction and handle disruption with fewer headaches.

Collaboration is key

So what should airports and their partners do to improve flight punctuality and operations overall? Essentially, it requires many different stakeholders, including ground handlers, airlines, border control and air traffic control, to collaborate effectively.

They need trained and motivated people with dedicated procedures supported by automated systems, along with shared infrastructure and processes to efficiently respond to the inevitable delays and various (un)foreseen events that impact airport operations.

Of course, improved operational excellence doesn’t just improve punctuality in airports, it provides a range of benefits, including improved cost-control, greater capacity and improved efficiency. All of which allow the airport to be more competitive, attractive to passengers and airlines, and ultimately more profitable.

To help airports cope better with disruptions and optimize the use of resources, read our new paper, Integrate, orchestrate, collaborate. The paper takes an in-depth look at the challenges, opportunities and solutions that impact operational efficiency.


Featured resources

Technology is a key enabler of operational excellence, and the growth of shared IT and network infrastructure in airports provides increased agility for all stakeholders. This helps break down silos and drive opportunities for greater process integration to improve overall airport operation.

Learn more


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