Vast Majority of Canadians No Longer Believe Airlines to Be Reliable: Survey

In an era marked by unprecedented travel challenges and the enduring impact of the pandemic, the airline industry has faced a rough time. Against this backdrop, new data released by Leger explores Canadians' perspectives on airlines' reliability.

According to findings, Canadians are more frustrated with their travel experiences than their U.S. counterparts. Only 39 percent of Canadians believe airlines are reliable in terms of adhering to their departure and arrival schedules, compared to 46 per cent of those south of the border.

In addition, almost seven out of ten Canadians (68 per cent) think that there has been more flight delays and cancellations in the past year compared to previous years.

These concerns are not unfounded, as six in 10 Canadians (59 per cent) who have taken a flight in the past 12 months reported experiencing flight delays, while two in 10 (21 per cent) encountered flight cancellations.

Further, almost two in 10 individuals (19 per cent) endured baggage delays and an additional 10 per cent had to deal with lost baggage.

Airline woes not imagined

These perceptions are not unfounded, as recent incidents illustrate, including wide-spread disruptions over the Canada Day long weekend. As Open Jaw reported, thousands of flights across Canada were delayed or cancelled over the holiday weekend.

And Open Jaw also reported this week that Air Canada and WestJet had worse on-time performance than their U.S. counterparts in even recent weeks.

According to statistics from aviation data firm Cirium, about 50 per cent of Air Canada flights were on time in JUN and JUL, while 36 per cent of WestJet flights arrived within the 15 minute window of their scheduled arrival. In contrast, major U.S. airlines maintain on-time percentages in the high 60s to low 80s.

Canadians have also had a far worse time with connecting flights, with 59 per cent of those surveyed — compared to 35 per cent of residents of the U.S. — saying they will only be trying to book direct flights from now on after recent incidents of late arrivals and missed connections.

Room for improvement by all aviation stakeholders

As the airline industry strives to recover from the impact of the pandemic, the survey results highlight the significance of improving punctuality and operational efficiency for airlines. Timely departures and arrivals are critical factors that influence passengers' perceptions of reliability and customer satisfaction.

But it's not all down to the carriers themselves, as airline executives point out. Security, border processing, baggage and other operations all tie into on-time performance.

In MAY, Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) president and CEO Deborah Flint said Pearson had hired 10,000 new employees since the previous summer to handle rising demand, as well as modernizing some of its systems.

At a mid-summer performance update on 18JUL, Flint said these operations have helped increase baggage system reliability, cut security wait times and decreased holds on board aircraft, as Open Jaw reported.

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