British Airways is attempting to improve its woeful on-time arrival rate by incentivising employees to play their part in getting planes away on time with the lure of free confirmed Business Class tickets to anywhere in the world.
In February, the Heathrow-based carrier achieved an on-time arrival rate of just 69.9 per cent, according to data supplied by aviation statistics company OAG. In comparison, rival Virgin Atlantic achieved a 77.8 per cent on-time arrival rate, and fellow IAG airline Iberia recorded an impressive 88.9 per cent on-time arrival rate.
In fact, BA was beaten by nearly all of its major competitors, including Emirates, easyJet, Air France, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Dutch flag carrier KLM.
Last year, British Airways even poached the chief operations officer of KLM in an attempt to improve the situation, but so far, at least, turnaround efforts have proved stubbornly difficult to achieve.
The airline has been blaming factors outside its control for the constant delays, including the usual suspects like the weather and air traffic control strikes, notably across France in protest at President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to increase the retirement age.
Still, when its European peers continue to outshine it in operational performance and resilience, it’s hard to ignore the possibility that some of BA’s biggest problems are it’s of its own doing.
The airline is still struggling to recruit or retain crucial ground staff to load luggage, attach jetties to planes or drive pushback tugs, and there aren’t enough engineers and maintenance staff to keep aircraft in working order at the same pace that BA is trying to run its ambitious schedule.
As a result, British Airways cancelled more than 2 per cent of its scheduled flights last month – more than American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Iberia combined.
Senior managers are hoping, however, that they can rally staff to get more flights away on time by running a free Business Class ticket raffle. The incentive will work by drawing an employee’s name at random for every day between April 1 and April 14 that the airline achieves its so-called D15 target (the percentage of flights that depart within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time).
Perhaps realising just how bad the situation is, however, British Airways has set a D15 target of just 67 per cent for the Easter holidays.
The winners will each receive a pair of confirmed Club World tickets for any destination in the British Airways network, and there will also be the opportunity to win guest passes to BA’s First lounge if local targets are achieved during the same period.
British Airways is, at least, outperforming Canadian airline Air Inuit which recorded an on-time arrival rate of just 39.2 per cent in February that a cancellation rate of nearly 15 per cent.
The best-performing airline, according to IAG data, was Mexican carrier Volaris, with a near-perfect on-time arrival rate of 98.9 percent.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.