SpiceJet pips IndiGo to win punctuality race

Tops on-time performance list in December, January and February

Low-cost airline IndiGo has successfully sold its airline on its much touted marketing plank of ‘IndiGo Standard Time’. But recent data show rivals challenging its numero uno position.

Data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) show that in the months of December 2013 and January and February this year,  SpiceJet topped the on-time performance (OTP) ranking among all domestic airlines. The data for December and January was collected from the four metropolitan cities and Bangalore and Hyderabad.  In February, data from Chennai and Kolkata were not available.  IndiGo and Jet Airways took the second and third rank, alternatively, during this period. DGCA has not yet released the March data.

The data show SpiceJet fared better than the rest at Chennai and Kolkata airports with over 96 per cent on-time flights in December and January. DGCA did not provide the data of these two airports for February. IndiGo had a better OTP than rivals at Mumbai and Delhi during those two months.  OTP of airlines has been the lowest at Mumbai airport in recent months, as the  ongoing taxiway work is causing flight delays.

SpiceJet said it had been able to improve its punctuality due to strict monitoring of flight movements. “Each time a flight pushes back from the parking bay even a minute late, a text message with the reason goes to all operating department heads and the chief operating officer,’’ said an airline spokesperson, adding this had improved accountability among employees and led to reduction in delays. This enabled it to beat IndiGo, which was number one in OTP during October and November last year.

GoAir is behind its key private sector rivals, with 75.2 per cent OTP in February, 64.8 per cent in January and 71.7 per cent last December.   

Air India fares better
Government-owned Air India has shown some improvement compared to a year before, when its OTP was not more than 60-65 per cent. Based on DGCA figures for the same airports, it had an OTP of 70.8 per cent in February, compared to 66.4 per cent in January and 69.8 per cent in December last year.

There is still a substantial gap with rivals in the private sector.

However managing director Rohit Nandan claims 85 per cent of all its flights across the network are currently on time.

Last month, its OTP was 83 per cent, he said.

Investment in software applications for flight planning, scheduling, hub control and real-time tracking of aircraft has helped the airline.  The AI management is also implementing ‘zero tolerance’ for its first departures from bases, which ensures the first flights depart on time. Real-time tracking of aircraft movement helps ground staff to prepare for contingencies and work for a quicker turnaround in case of delays, an AI executive said. “Our OTP used to be 60 per cent two years ago and has improved to 85 per cent,’’ he added.

"Every day we discuss and analyse previous day's operations. Each of the process such as check-in, loading of luggage, boarding has a defined time limit and employees have to adhere to it. This discipline is a must,'' a GoAir executive said.

A lot of processes are involved in ensuring that flights take off and arrive on time. From schedule planning to adherence of time lines in essential. Airlines try to reduce on ground turn around time between each departures which enables them to operate more flights each day. GoAir, IndiGo and Jet Airways did not respond to query on the topic.

On time flights


SpiceJet - 79.7

IndiGo - 79.2

Jet Airways - 78.1

GoAir - 75.2

Air India - 70.8


SpiceJet - 79.5

IndiGo - 77.7

Jet Airways - 75.5

Air India - 66.4

GoAir - 64.8


SpiceJet - 82.2

Jet Airways - 81.7

IndiGo - 80.2

GoAir - 71.7

Air India - 69.8

Source: DGCA.

Note: Data for February was collected from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad airports. Data for December and January includes the four airports plus Kolkata and Chennai