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Suvarnabhumi » Suvarnabhumi stands 6th in the 10 Most On-Time airports – ForbesTraveler

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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1. Haneda, Tokyo (HND): 90%
2. Narita International, Tokyo (NRT): 84.2%
3. Taiwan Taoyuan International, Taipei (TPE): 80.3%
4. Kingsford Smith International, Sydney (SYD): 80.1%
5. Hong Kong International (HKG): 79.7%
6. Suvarnabhumi International, Bangkok (BKK): 79.3%
6. Soekarno-Hatta International, Jakarta (CGK): 79.3%
8. Orlando International (MCO): 78.8%
9. Franz Josef Strauss Airport, Munich (MUC): 77.8%
10. George Bush Intercontinental, Houston (IAH): 77%

Top 10 Most On-Time airports – ForbesTraveler 

International flights can be long and tedious. But if you’re flying to or from Asia, take some comfort in knowing that you’re likely to get there (and take off) on time.

In tallying the world’s 10 most punctual airports, Forbes Traveler discovered that six are based in Asia – with the top two in Tokyo, Japan.

Australia’s oldest and busiest airport, Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International, tied in third position with Taiwan Taoyuan International. Roughly 80 per cent of international commercial flights to Sydney arrived and departed on schedule.

Eighty-two per cent of flights at Taiwan Taoyuan International flights took off, and 78 per cent landed, on time.

At Japan’s busiest airport, Haneda, more than 93 per cent of flights departed within 15 minutes of the scheduled time and 87 per cent arrived on time, according to 2007 punctuality data from FlightStats, an Oregon-based company that tracks historical and real-time flight information for airports and airlines around the world. (Within 15 minutes of the scheduled time is regarded as “on-time” by the air travel industry.)

At sister airport Narita, which opened in 1978 to take over the bulk of Haneda’s international traffic, 86 per cent of carriers took off and 82 per cent arrived as scheduled. Factoring in both arrivals and departures, the two Japanese hubs have a 91 per cent and 84.2 per cent on-time rate, respectively.

In fact, a mere one per cent of departures at Haneda were rated “very late”, or within 30 to 44 minutes of the scheduled take-off time. That’s not bad, considering it’s also the fourth busiest airport in the world – behind Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson, Chicago O’Hare and London Heathrow; more than 65 million passengers were processed in 2006, according to Geneva-based industry group Airport Council International (ACI). At the smaller Narita, the “very late” designation was applied to only two per cent flights.

Survey based on 50 busiest airports

To compile this list, we considered the 50 busiest airports in the world, or those that transported at least 22 million passengers in 2006, according to the most current data from ACI.

We then looked at each airport’s annual arrival and departure statistics, supplied by FlightStats, and factored the average between the two. (In general, airport authorities place more emphasis on departures, which are more indicative of an airport’s ground operations, according to David White, vice president of business development for FlightStats. But since passengers, by and large, pay more attention to timely arrivals, we incorporated both arrivals and departures into our ranking.)

Why Asia’s airports among standouts

Why such a strong showing for airports in the Far East? It may be that Asia is home to more new airports than anywhere else – roughly 15 new facilities have opened within the last 18 years – compared to only a handful in Europe and the United States.

Asia is also the second busiest region in terms of global air traffic behind the Middle East, with an average annual growth rate of nearly six per cent between 2007 and 2011, according to projections from the industry trade organisation International Air Transport Association (IATA).

New hubs mean improved infrastructure – more runways, taxiways, aprons and terminal facilities – all of which play a role in reducing flight delays, explains ACI senior advisor Paul Behnke.

For instance, 10-year-old Hong Kong International (number five on our list) employs 60,000 people and is capable of handling 55 flight operations every hour during peak hours. And newcomer Suvarnabhumi in Thailand has two runways, two taxiways, one of the world’s tallest control towers and a 76-flight-per-hour handling capacity.

The flurry of new building also alleviates congestion at other airports. EUROCONTROL (the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation) estimates that without improved air transport infrastructure and expansion, the top 20 European airports will be operating at maximum capacity for eight to 10 hours each day.

US airports trail in performance

The United States’s FAA, meanwhile, has estimated that by 2015, delays in the air transport system will cost the US economy some $US22 ($23.58) million.

Still, as much as US passengers may love to scoff their native airports, a total of two American locations made the tail-end of the top 10 list. (Los Angeles International airport was barely nudged off the list, making the 11th spot.) The most punctual US airport, and ranked 24th busiest worldwide, is Orlando International.

Spread out over 15,000 acres with four runways and a constant crush of Disney-goers, the airport manages an admirable 79.2 per cent on-time departures and 78.5 per cent on-time arrivals.

And the losers are …

Curious which of the world’s busiest airports were the least on time?

At New York City’s La Guardia airport, not even 60 per cent of commercial flights departed on time last year; the average wait time was 58 minutes. And, only 58 per cent of arrivals were considered punctual.

The second worst was Dubai International, where more than 10 per cent of both arriving and departing commercial flights were tagged “excessively late.” A mere 57 per cent of flights departed on time, while 63 per cent arrived at the time they were scheduled.  (Jessie Knadler/ForbesTraveler)

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