Do Jetstar employ PR people who don’t understand graphs?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 27-Aug-2014 10:36

The people over at Jetstar posted a graph on their Twitter account his morning. Clearly the intention was to show that they’re better than Air New Zealand when it comes to on-time performance. I’m not quite sure if it really does show that.

jq ontime

It’s no secret that Air New Zealand have had terrible on-time performance across their main trunk routes in recent times. These problems have existed for a number of reasons, not but least

A) The move from 737 to A320 aircraft with 38 more seats. Meeting 30 minute turnaround times for some domestic flights has been a challenge. But Jetstar operate A320 aircraft as well you may say – but the key being Air NZ average passenger loadings on their flights are significantly higher than Jetstar. While not the sole cause, in conjunction with the following it’s lead to major problems in recent months.

B) Jetstar operate strict timeframes for gate closure – be on the plane 15 minutes before your flight or you’ll miss it. Air New Zealand aren’t quite so strict, something that customers may like, but ultimately it can cause delays.

C) Koru Lounges. Jetstar don’t have airport lounges in New Zealand. This means passengers are waiting at the gate rather than in the lounge. With many travellers preferring to wait in the lounge until the last minute, it ultimately has the ability to cause delays.

D) Delays at Wellington airport due to screening. Due to no centralised screening for jet services at Wellington airport many passengers waiting in the lounge until the last minute and all scramble to be screened, which can cause delays.

E) Air New Zealand operate significantly more services than Jetstar.

So the graph shows what everybody already knows. Air NZ lead the way in on-time performance but slipped. A lot of work in recent months is clearly shown in these results, and it shows that on-time performance from Air New Zealand is back to where it was. I’m no PR person, but releasing information showing the massive improvements your competitor is making seems a little strange. It’s great of Jetstar to point that out to the industry.

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Comment by mushion22, on 27-Aug-2014 10:57

Lies, damn lies and statistics. I think it would be more interesting to see a graph of percentiles over time showing the delays experienced. I imagine that when JQ has a delay, it's probably typically more significant than an NZ delay. I would also like to see stats on cancellations. Ie, while NZ might have had a few more delayed flights, those days probably distrupted passengers less. The other misleading thing about the graph is that it's not 0-based. It purports to show Jetstar way ahead at first glance, but actually it's only a few percent. The things you mentioned would easily cause that amount of variance.Finally, as usual, it's a departures metric. On time arrivals is more relevant to whether a customer's day was disrupted. I imagine NZ might also be more willing to burn more fuel to make up for a delay than JQ. 

Comment by Oblivian, on 27-Aug-2014 12:26

The big question needs to be asked of them, do the figures take into account re-scheduled departure times with planning/control tower for extended delays.

I think the answer will likely be no.

You could easily claim you were on-time regardless of scheduled departure time on the boarding pass, as long as a delayed ETD is announced and you are within 10mins of it.

Comment by hairy1, on 27-Aug-2014 20:01

The graph is quite interesting as both airlines follow similar tracks (apart from June). This probably indicates the weather has the most influence on on time performance.

Jetstar has an advantage as all their traffic is point to point on the main trunk.

Air NZ has an entire network which means if someone books a flight from Whangarei to Dunedin and the Whangarei to Auckland Dash 8 is late, this makes the Auckland to Dunedin flight late. The airline then ends up with two late aircraft and so on... It is much harder to keep a network on time.

Cheers, Matt.

Disclosure: I work for Air NZ.

sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at