Qantas bans flying faster to make up time on very late flights

By John Walton, August 16 2011
Qantas bans flying faster to make up time on very late flights

Is your Qantas flight running more than 15 minutes late? Under new rules being passed down by management, your pilot will only be able to make up the time if the new arrival would be within the 15-minutes-late "on time" window for government statistics.

So even if your late flight could make up some of a longer delay by burning a bit more fuel, Qantas won't do it. That's according to Captain Richard Woodward, vice president of the Australian International Pilots Association, quoted in The Daily Telegraph.

Of course, the pilots' union and Qantas are mired in industrial talks, so we're taking that accusation with a pinch of salt.

(The industrial strife is also why you haven't heard John Travolta saying there's no pilot he'd prefer than a Qantas pilot on your recent flight: the airline has dropped that from the safety video.)

But Qantas isn't denying the 'under 15 minutes or bust' policy.

"Fuel burn increases exponentially when the aircraft goes faster so in trying to make up just a few minutes, planes can burn through thousands of litres of jet fuel," a spokesman told The Daily Telegraph.

"Airlines around the world are already charging passengers fuel surcharges and higher airfares because of high jet fuel prices and burning more and more fuel puts further pressure on airfares."

The change in policy appears to be driven by the way the government compiles statistics for late flights.

BITRE (Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics) considers a flight 'on-time' if it arrives less than 15 minutes past its scheduled time. Clearly, Qantas wants to hang on to its market leading 'on-time' percentage, but if a flight is going to run past the 'on-time' cut-off, it doesn't see a benefit in flying the plane faster.

Is it time for BITRE to move to a different system: lateness based on percentage flight time, a full reporting of minutes per flight basis or something else?

Or would that just encourage airlines to pad out their timetables with extra scheduled time -- an accusation often levelled at low-cost airlines that then brag about their on-time record?

What do you think? Share your thoughts with your fellow readers in the comments or join our conversation via Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

27 Jul 2011

Total posts 42

Yeah, they really need a method where they can take in the lateless of later flights into account, to stop the airlines trying to manipulate  the stats at the expense of passangers (like this).

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