A new report from Cirium Aviation Analytics has revealed that Canada’s two largest airlines, Air Canada and WestJet, faced a significant number of delays in 2022.
The report, which analyzed the on-time performance of the 10 largest airlines in Canada and the United States, found that Air Canada ranked last, while WestJet ranked ninth.
Air Canada had 55.6% of its approximately 143,000 flights arriving on time as of mid-December. WestJet, meanwhile, had 60.7% of its approximately 89,000 flights arriving on time. Delta Air Lines, which topped the list, had on-time arrivals for about 84% of its 960,000 flights.
The data used in the report does not include the past week or so, during which hundreds of flights across Canada were canceled due to extreme winter weather.
Both Air Canada and WestJet have cited a range of other factors that have contributed to delays throughout the year, including challenging winter climates, third-party staffing shortages, airport construction, and processing and staffing issues with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
“The challenge for passengers is that the airlines love to claim that everything is due to weather, or due to maintenance issues, or something that they always say ‘oh it’s not me, it’s them. It’s some third-party,’ to make it look like they owe nothing to passengers,” said Dr. Gabor Lukacs, founder and president of Air Passenger Rights.
Over the holidays, Toronto Pearson experienced a massive baggage backlog at its Terminal 3, which it said was caused by a combination of “weather disruptions, frozen equipment, airline staffing levels and flight delays.” The backlog resulted in some passengers arriving at their destination without their luggage.
Sunwing, one of the airlines impacted by the backlog, has informed its passengers that it will not be able to deliver their luggage and that they will instead need to pick it up at a designated location. As of this writing, other airlines, including WestJet, have yet to update their passengers.
The delays have also caused hundreds of Canadian Sunwing passengers to be stranded for days in Mexico. Global News reported that Sunwing had canceled flights back to Canada, and some passengers said that officials gave them “inaccurate and incomplete information about when they might get home.”
Lukacs argues that the ultimate responsibility for delays lies not with the airlines themselves, but with the regulatory environment that allows them to prioritize profits over customer satisfaction. He calls for changes to the legal framework that holds airlines accountable in order to incentivize better behavior.
Information for this story was found via Cirium Aviation Analytics, Global News, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.