Virgin and Punctuality

Flightontime has just published its annual review of airline punctuality for 2010. As with all statistics, you really have to look behind the bare figures to get a proper understanding of what is happening. It is pretty silly to single out BMI Regional as the country’s most punctual airline – the airline flies to and from uncongested regional airports so it has none of the problems most other airlines have to face. Similarly, we think it rather unfair to pick on Jet2 as the least punctual. It is easy for some shorthaul airlines (especially budget carriers) to massage their figures because they simply cancel flights when they are faced with a delay. Jet2 makes a serious effort to carry passengers to their destination. What would you rather have – a delay of two hours on your flight from Newcastle to Murcia or an offer of a refund and a flight next Tuesday?

However, there are some pretty obvious trends you can pick out of the tables and we are surprised no one has picked up on the very poor timekeeping by Virgin Atlantic.

They come in at 26 out of 30 at Heathrow ahead of Air India and Turkish Airlines. At Manchester, they are number 30 out of 35 and 28th out of 30 at Gatwick just ahead of Libya’s Afriqiyah Airways. These figures are fractionally worse than last year but Virgin were fairly low then as well. To be fair, a delay of 45 minutes or so on a ten-hour flight might not be the end of the world but, other carriers can leave on time so why not Virgin?

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