Emirates, Qatar Airways, Saudia: September Performance Forecast

Today's edition of the airline performance forecast looks at Middle East'S biggest airlines: Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Saudia. For each airline, we provide September forecasts for flight volume, punctuality, and schedule reliability.

During the last couple of months, we’ve put out many posts that analyze the past performance of airlines. For example, we recently looked at the August performance of many carriers, including Air France, Ryanair, easyJet, and many others. With this new format, we don’t look back but want to provide some insights into airlines’ potential performance of the current month. First, however, it is worth and essential mentioning that all figures provided on this blog post are predictions — please keep in mind!

After analyzing Iberia, Vueling & TAP, and Europe’s biggest low-cost carriers, we now move on and have a detailed look at Middle East’s biggest carriers: Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Saudia. We provide a forecast concerning flight volume, on-time performance, and schedule reliability for all three airlines. Moreover, we put those figures into context and provide data from the recent month. Enjoy!


Let’s quickly define the indicators we discuss in this blog post.

Flight Volume
In our case, we define flight volume as the number of flights the airline will perform in a certain period, September 2021.

Punctuality counts all flights that arrive on time at their destination airport and puts them into relation to the overall operated number of flights. On-time in this context is defined as +15/-15 compared to the scheduled arrival time. We consider an on-time performance above 90% as good (green), from 80%-90% as ok (orange), and below 80% as weak (red).

Flight Schedule Reliability (Reliability)
Schedule reliability counts the number of actually performed flights in relation to scheduled flights. In other words, the percentage of flights that an airline didn’t cancel. We consider schedule reliability above 95% as good (green), from 90%-95% as ok (orange), and below 90% as weak (red).

Emirates, Qatar Airways, Saudia — Performance Forecast Overview

Before diving into the details of every single airline, we put together the most relevant information below. Based on our forecast, Qatar Airways will surpass Saudia in terms of flight volume and will get the trophy of Middle East’s biggest airline in September. However, currently, the forecasted gap between Qatar Airways and Saudia is only 500 flights. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

In terms of punctuality, Emirates and Saudia are likely to perform slightly better than Qatar Airways. However, and more importantly, all airlines recovered from their abysmal on-time performance in August.

Emirates and Qatar Airways will continue to deliver a solid performance above 99% concerning flight schedule stability. Saudia, on the other, will continue to struggle. Moreover, we expect Saudia to close the month with schedule reliability of 90.7% — that would be below the —already poor— performance in August.

IATAAirlinesFlight VolumePunctualityReliability
QRQatar Airways14,00086.3%99.6%
Emirates, Qatar Airways, Saudia — Performance Forecast Overview


Let’s start with the most significant change first: We forecast a flight volume growth of 27% for Emirates. As a result, Emirates is likely to perform almost 9,000 flights in September. However, the volume is still far away from pre-COVID figures.

In terms of flight punctuality, Emirates will return to a >90% punctuality. With 92.2%, Emirates improves its August value by 3pp. Emirates’ schedule reliability, on the other side, will slightly decrease. However, important to mention that Emirates schedule reliability in August was amazingly high.

Emirates Punctuality Forecast
Emirates Schedule Reliability Forecast
Emirates Flight Forecast

Qatar Airways

As already mentioned, we expect Qatar Airways to win the trophy of Middle East’s biggest airline in September. Our current forecast predicts a flight volume of 14,000 flights — that’s a growth rate of almost 15% compared to August.

On-time performance seems to be Qatar’s challenge in September. Currently, we forecast a dip of 10.9pp to a punctuality level of 86.3%. As a result, Qatar Airways would perform the weakest on-time performance of Middle East’s three biggest airlines. Qatar’s schedule reliability, on the other side, remains strong. At the moment, we see Qatar Airways performing around 99.6% of its flights as scheduled.

Qatar Airways Punctuality Forecast
Qatar Airways Punctuality Forecast
Qatar Airways Schedule Reliability Forecast
Qatar Airways Schedule Reliability Forecast
Qatar Airways Flight Forecast
Qatar Airways Flight Forecast


For the first time in many months, Saudia is likely to lose the title of Middle East’s biggest airline by flight volume. Although Saudia adds another 1.1% to its schedule, Qatar’s tremendous growth rate outperforms the Saudi carrier this month.

From an operations quality point of view, Saudia will continue to struggle. Although Saudia is likely to improve its OTP from below 80% in August to 91%, schedule reliability seems to be the big issue in September. Currently, we predict a cancellation rate of almost 10%. If this plays out, Saudia’s weak August schedule reliability will decrease to 90.7%

Saudia Punctuality Forecast
Saudia Punctuality Forecast
Saudia Schedule Reliability Forecast
Saudia Schedule Reliability Forecast
Saudia Flight Forecast
Saudia Flight Forecast

Data Source

The shown ranking and contained data are based on the latest FlightFacts data. FlightFacts is a free-to-use mobile app that lets you discover the operational performance of airlines in real-time. For more information about FlightFacts, click here or visit our download page. FlightsFacts is available for Android and Apple mobiles.

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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