On-time performance (punctuality) is probably the number quality indicator for an airline (except safety aspects). And a quality indicator that affects your passengers massively. However, many airlines still struggle to improve their OTP or maintain it on a high level.

According to recent numbers from OAG, only 4 airlines are operating with an OTP >= 90%.

But almost 70% of all airlines analyzed performing with an OTP below 80%. No doubt, there are many factors influencing the OTP, and not all of them are under your airline’s control. Moreover, airlines have been investing a considerable amount of money in improving their OTP.

Investments to enhance operational processes, acquire new IT systems, or increasing workforce. Indeed, some of the investments paid off with a slightly increased OTP. Nevertheless, when looking at before mentioned numbers, it seems like a massive portion of the money spent was money wasted.

With this blog post, I will show you a way to improve your on-time performance — sustainability, without investing several hundred thousand dollars, and have first results within 30 days.

Welcome real-time

The key to this improvement lies in setting up and utilizing real-time key performance indicator. Real-time data that shows you your OTP, stability, seat-load-factor, standby crew, etc. — at this very moment.

This information has to be available for everybody involved in your operations. Your operations controller, your dispatcher, operations management, ground staff, flight crew, etc. Available on large screens in control or meeting rooms available on tablets or smartphones.

You may ask: Really? That’s it? That is going to improve my OTP? Actually, yes. But of course, I’m going to tell you why.

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Better decisions and improved on-time performance based on real-time facts

In operations, every minute counts. Taking a decision too late or making a decision based on wrong/outdated information directly lead to reduced performance and reduced OTP.

Aberdeen research shows the use of real-time dashboards facilitates better decision-making. As analyzed over the last two years, real-time dashboard users have improved their time-to-decision at a rate 2.5 times greater than those who don’t use dashboards.

Imagine: A decision which previously took you 10 minutes now made in 4 minutes — and additionally, will be based on real-time information.

Manage your airline in real-time

I’m sure you read that 100 times before: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Accordingly, how should your staff be able to improve OTP in day-to-day operations, without knowing the current OTP? This is simply not possible. How should they be able to control and improve the influencing factors without knowing the current performance?

Again, this is simply not possible. To improve the OTP in daily operations and manage in real-time, your staff needs to be aware of your key performance indicators.

Real-time Key Disruption Indicators for an improved on-time performance

Key Disruption Indicators are those factors that directly impact the on-time performance of your airline. Think about standby crew availability, ground time sufficiency, gate or runway utilization — to name a few.

These factors are crucial for your OTP. And again, you need to be aware of those Key Disruption Indicators in real-time to pro-actively initiate mitigation measures. A pro-active activation of additional standby crews, for example, will directly avoid delayed departures due to the lack of standby crews.

Awareness & goal-oriented airline

We love to reach goals, don’t we? And trying to achieve or finally achieving the goals in terms of punctuality boosts the motivation of your staff. However, there’s pitfall — and this one again is psychological: Cause and impact. To ultimately boost an employee’s motivation, it is essential to directly show the effect (of course, with real-time KPIs).

Although the human brain is brilliant in many ways, it lacks potential to bring together cause and effect — at least if not directly and timely linked (think about junk food: We all know that junk food is not healthy, but since the result is far in the future we underestimate that).

Additionally, it’s prevalent that people underestimate their impact on the overall success of a company / airline. “I’m just a ramp agent; if I’m five minutes late, it won’t have an impact.” That’s because employees don’t know the big picture (which is actually not their fault).

By providing both specific and overall real-time KPIs for every area, every employee can assess how they are impacting the whole process — and I’m starting to repeat myself — that will additionally motivate.

Summing it up

From working with airlines of all sizes, we’ve seen that the above aspects immediately and directly show results — or in other words, direct help to improve the on-time performance of your airline

Of course, a particular investment is necessary to provide real-time KPIs and real-time information. But compared to many other measures, this is a minimal investment.

Want to know more about airline operations and KPIs? Join 1000+ airline experts and receive regular airline operations & KPI tactics. Plus, KPI podcasts and white papers.


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Benjamin is an aviation-enthusiast, a music-maniac, and CEO of Information Design (in this order). His daily business revolves around pioneering solutions with the aim to change the aviation industry. His visions are based on expertise gained in more than 15 years in the industry, and working with renowned airlines such as Lufthansa, Emirates, Air India, Aegean Airlines, Saudia Airlines, S7, Icelandair and many others.