KQ overtakes Ethiopian Airlines as Africa's best in keeping time


Kenya Airways (KQ) has emerged the most punctual African flag carrier, having made timely arrivals for over 70 percent of its flights in 2023, beating Ethiopian Airlines, which has been leading for years.

On-time performance (OTP) analysis by aviation analytics firm Cirium reveals that of the 41,905 flights KQ made in 2023, the carrier made timely arrivals in more than 30,000, giving it a performance rate of 71.86 percent.

This made KQ the most punctual flag carrier on the continent and the second airline in Africa, coming after South Africa-based privately-owned low-cost carrier Safair, which completed 92.36 percent of its flights on time.

Across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, KQ was ranked the tenth most punctual airline, in a list topped by Oman’s flag carrier Oman Air, which made timely arrivals in 92.53 percent of all its flights.

This is the first time KQ has performed better than its arch-rival on the continent, Ethiopian Airlines (ET), which has held the position of the most punctual flag carrier in Africa for the past five years.

In 2022, ET was ranked sixth in the MEA region, and the first in Africa, having arrived on time in 77.3 percent of its flights. KQ did not feature among the best 10. In 2021, ET was ranked fourth in the region and second in Africa, after Safair, with KQ still missing in the top 10. KQ last featured among the 10 most punctual airlines in 2019, when it came tenth.

Experts argue that on-time performance has a significant impact on revenues and customer sentiment and satisfaction. “Passenger satisfaction can fluctuate according to the level of OTP attained by a particular Airline and as a powerful tool in brand marketing campaigns when consistently high,” said Anthony Brooks, an aircraft appraiser.

KQ’s improvement wasn’t without shortfalls, however. It did well only during the first 10 months of the year, but experienced delays in November and December, deteriorating its performance in timely arrivals.