Having received so much feedback on my last blog article about the relevance – or should I say irrelevance – of an on-time performance KPI, I thought it’s time to share some more details on KPIs that I consider as most relevant for every airline.

(If you want to take a look at the on-time performance blog article first: Link)

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

Superior KPIs

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

I would call them the superior KPIs. Or the most 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 (maybe except one).

Again, there are so many complex 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.


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

And we don’t have to talk 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 an easy to provide by simply calculating the percentage of canceled flights with respect to the 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

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 shows the results of the hard work each department at the airline is doing.

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

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

Customer punctuality

Yes, definitely my favourite one which 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 when it comes to data availability and the definition of passengers which have to be taken into account (believe it: it sounds trivial at the beginning but we had to spend dozen of workshops hours with client-specific definitions).

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

More content needed?

Download our Airline Operations KPI Guide

The KPI Guide introduces 38 different KPIs. Each KPI is listed with a short description / explanation as well as an examples and specific notes.