What are your top three KPI every airline should pay attention to? A question I’m asked frequently.

With this post, I want to provide my favorite airline operations KPIs. And explain why I consider them as most relevant.

What defines relevance, and why do I think every airline should pay attention to the following KPIs?

From my point of view, a KPI becomes relevant when it truly helps an airline to improve quality, customer satisfaction, or internal motivation.

Of course, several KPIs depend on an airline, its chosen business model, its strategy, and even the world region the airline is operating.

Let’s take the misconnex ratio as an example. Misconnex is a KPI that is super-important for a hub carrier, as Emirates, Lufthansa, or United but almost of no interest to no-frills airlines, such as Ryanair, Easyjet, or JetBlue.

Find out the most important airline KPIs: 6 most important KPIs in airline operations

Superior KPIs

The top 3 KPIs I put together on this list are essential to each passenger airline. Network carrier and low-cost carrier; Legacy airlines and rising challenger; Charter or scheduled airline.

I want to call them the superior KPIs. Or the essential KPIs, every airline should take care of at any point in time.

Moreover, the list reflects my experience of delivering KPI projects to airlines for more than 15 years. They combine airline thoughts with out-of-the-box thinking as wells as feedback and ideas I’ve received from clients over the last years.

Straight-to-the-point, minimalistic & sharp

Surprisingly (or maybe not), the list does not contain super-fancy or highly sophisticated KPIs (perhaps except one).

Again, there are so many sophisticated and relevant KPIs — but when it comes to the essence of a business, I prefer to have it straight-to-the-point, minimalistic, and sharp.

Let’s get down to business – here are my top 3 KPIs.

Stability — Top Airline KPI No. 3

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Probably one of the simple KPIs, yet so essential and conclusive. Forget about lost baggage, not working IFE or delays — there’s nothing in the world that is more annoying than canceled flights.

It directly puts enormous stress on your passengers. Where to get more information? Can I get re-booked? Is there still a chance to make it on time?

Think about the impact on customer satisfaction, probability to choose that airline again, and word of mouth.

From a KPI and data point of view, Stability is easy to provide by merely calculating the percentage of canceled flights in relation to total operated flights — definitely a no-brainer.

A lot of airlines I’ve worked with and A:Walls we setup show the Stability at a very prominent position. As mentioned, yes, it is a simple KPI — but sometimes those are the most important.

Number of passengers — Top Airline KPI No. 2

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A KPI with a tremendous impact on internal motivation and identification with the airline/your company.

What could be more fascinating than showing the number of transported passengers at this moment or summarized for the whole day? Again, a simple to calculate KPI, but one which perfectly illustrates the results of the hard work each department at the airline is doing.

It is a very emotional KPI. I’ve worked with airlines, which ritualized this KPI: Every day at 6 am and 6 pm the operational staff takes a look at this KPI and cheers themselves for transporting x-thousand passengers.

The KPI not necessarily is linked to customer satisfaction or quality but shows the great work everybody is striving. Therefore, and from my perspective, this KPI has to be definitely on this list.

Customer punctuality — Top Airline KPI No. 1

top airline kpi
Source: Unsplash

Yes, my favorite one has to be on that list.

Customer punctuality is calculated as the percentage of passengers arrived at their destination on-time in relation to all booked passengers.

From a calculation point of view, customer punctuality can be slightly tricky, mainly due to data availability and required conceptual work.

Nonetheless, I firmly believe that this KPI is the most relevant since it purely focuses on your customers and customer satisfaction. And as already mentioned in one of my last posts, I’d always chose customer punctuality over pure OTP.