Set aside, for the purposes of argument, seat pitch, price and service.  What we really want from an airline is for it to get us to our destination on schedule so that we can go about getting on with what we really want to do.  Here’s a roundup of the airlines most likely to do that.

1. Air Baltic

Top of the class in OAG’s report on the most punctual airlines in 2017 was Air Baltic, Latvia’s state-owned low cost carrier.  It took to the skies in 1995 and has been popular with its customers ever since.  Last year it had an impressive punctuality record of 90.01%.  With codeshare agreements in place with the likes of British Airways, Etihad and KLM, this is a budget airline that means business.

2. Hong Kong Airlines

Hot on Air Baltic’s heels is Hong Kong Airlines.  Not to be confused with Cathay Pacific, which incidentally didn’t make the top twenty, the airline managed to secure a 88.83% on time rate. Covering over thirty cities, including Auckland, Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok and Tokyo, it’s definitely one to consider if you’re planning a trip to the Asia-Pacific region.

3. Hawaiian Airlines

Taking the third spot is Hawaiian Airlines, whose 2017 punctuality statistics came in at 87.24% according to OAG’s survey.  Based in Honolulu, it is the Hawaiian Islands’ largest carrier as well as its most punctual.  As well as connecting flights to other islands in the group, it flies long haul to destinations in Japan, China, New Zealand, Australia and South Korea.

4. Copa Airlines

At number four you’ll find the Panamanian carrier Copa, with an on-time record of 86.38% in 2017.  Headquartered in Panama City, it commenced operations in 1947.  It’s a familiar sight in the airports of North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, flying to over 70 destinations.  Code-sharing with the likes of United and KLM, its excellent punctuality record makes it a safe choice for those seeking indirect flights.

5. Qantas

The Australian flag carrier comes in at number five on OAG’s most punctual airlines of 2017.  Qantas is the country’s most important airline, responsible for around 65% of domestic flights and almost 15% of international flights.  Last year, 86.18% of its flights arrived within 15 minutes of their allotted arrival time, the figure required for OTP to kick in.

Rounding off the top ten were Japan Airlines, Vueling, Jetstar Asia and Skymark Airlines, each with a punctuality record of 85% or over, and Aer Lingus with 84.46% of flights on time.  Not far behind were other industry powerhouses such as Singapore Airlines, Delta, Qatar Airways and ANA.  It should also be noted that OAG only includes airlines for which it has data covering at least 80% of routes.  Among those who don’t qualify for the list is the low-cost carrier Ryanair which published its own OTP of 88% in 2017.

And who should you avoid?

When it comes to punctuality, three Chinese airlines look to be among the least reliable.  Air China had an OTP of 60.14%, China Eastern Airlines fared a little better at 61.8% and China Southern Airlines the best of a bad bunch at 64.19%.  Worst of all was Air Inuit.  The Canadian carrier achieved an OTP of only 44.6%, though its northerly patch means that bad weather is often a hindrance.

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