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The 10 most punctual airlines internationally and in Europe

Want to make sure your flight leaves on time? Then you should choose a Spanish airline. Four Spanish airlines are among Europe’s most punctual in 2022.

Apart from prices on plane tickets, punctuality is crucial for travelers when it comes to choosing an airline.

It can be frustrating to experience delays, whether due to technical problems, bad weather conditions, staff problems or other unexpected events

The development in punctuality is therefore closely followed by several companies, including the British aviation analytics firm Cirium.

Cirium produces both monthly and annual reports in which the 10 most punctual airlines and airports are highlighted in Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa and globally.

2022 was a challenging year for the airlines

The aviation industry is recovering from the covid-19 pandemic. From 2020 until 2022, lockdowns and travel restrictions were introduced by many countries. Passenger numbers were a fraction of what they were before the pandemic, and many planes were parked along the runways.

The post-pandemic recovery began around the spring of 2022. It was at this point that the industry began to realize the enormous challenge it faced.

When demand started to rise again, many airlines and airports were unable to respond quickly enough. They could not recruit sufficient staff to meet the operational requirements. This resulted in employees being put on overtime, all the while being underpaid. As a result, several airlines were hit by strikes over the summer.

Despite the chaotic conditions at airports, several airlines and airports have excelled worldwide.

Also read about airline strike – your rights if the flight is canceled or delayed.

Europe’s most punctual airlines

There are two ways to measure punctuality, either departure or arrival.

Many airlines, including Norwegian, publish monthly their punctuality at departure in connection with their traffic figures. Departure is measured from the moment the pilot presses start and the aircraft departs from the gate.

SAS, on the other hand, states its punctuality upon arrival, i.e. when the plane parks at the gate.

The generally accepted standard is a 15-minute allowance beyond both scheduled arrival and departure times.

This general guideline gives airlines and airports a little leeway to account for unforeseen events, perhaps beyond their control. Most travelers also consider a 15-minute delay to be reasonable.

Cirium uses the industry-accepted definition of arrival times, i.e. flights arriving within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.

Cirium is very careful to avoid the use of arrival time at the runway, as this can exaggerate performance. The difference between runway and gate arrival times can be anything between five and 30 minutes.

The most punctual airlines in 2022

Cirium’s top 10 most punctual airlines internationally and in Europe 2022 are shown in the tables below.

The most punctual airlines internationally

AirlineOn-time rankingOn-time arrivalTotal flights
Azul Brazilian Airlines188.93%279,722
All Nippon Airlines288.61%162,370
Japan Airlines388.00%165,981
LATAM Airlines486.31%451,651
Delta Air Lines583.63%1,004,684
Avianca S.A.683.48%144,525
United Airlines880.46%789,200
Qatar Airways978.32%152,377
American Airlines1078.29%1,076,100


The Brazilian low-cost airline, Azul Airlines, is according to the survey the most punctual airline internationally in 2022. Azul is closely followed by the Japanese airlines, Japan’s All Nippon Airways, and Japan Airlines. Each of these achieved an on-time performance of over 88 percent.

The most punctual airlines in Europe

AirlineOn-time rankingOn-time arrivalTotal flights
Air Europa284.10%48,163
Iberia Express383.80%35,665
Austrian Airlines582.00%95,708
Norwegian Air Shuttle681.29%71,561
ITA Airways780.29%91,841
Norwegian Air International879.03%41,215
LOT – Polish Airlines1075.08%85,902

According to the data from Cirium, the Spanish airline, Iberia, is the most punctual airline in Europe 2022. In the survey, Iberia received a score of 85.87 percent.

And the Spanish airlines are at the absolute top among European airlines. In addition to Iberia, Air Europa marks second place, Iberia Express third and Vueling fourth.

Norwegian is the Nordics’ most punctual airline in 2022. The Norwegian low-cost airline kept to its schedule in 81.29 percent of the cases.

It is striking that Europe’s leading airlines, including British Airways, Air France/KLM and Lufthansa, do not appear on the list.

Nor is SAS among the top 10 in 2022. Before the pandemic, SAS was consistently high on the European punctuality list.

When looking at the list, it is important to remember that airlines that primarily operate in Northern Europe – such as SAS and Norwegian – have harsher climate conditions to fly under than, for example, their Spanish counterparts.

Southern European airlines are far less affected by storms, snow and ice than airlines that operate in more challenging climate conditions further north.

Against this background, it may be easier for airlines in Southern Europe to achieve high punctuality.

Read also air travelers do not let SAS down – Still the largest in Scandinavia.

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