Although infamous for its lack of facilities, Pune International Airport seems to be doing well when it comes to the punctuality of flight operations. Data obtained by The Indian Express shows that 86.82 per cent of flights scheduled in October 2023 departed on time, while the remaining 13.18 per cent were delayed by either 15-30 minutes or more than 30 minutes.
The ‘on-time performance’ of the airport is closer to the record of the punctual airports in the country, such as Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, which has consistently clocked punctuality over 88.51 per cent than those that are counted among the least punctual, such as Mumbai International Airport. Some airlines, however, seem to be doing considerably badly and have also dragged down the airport’s overall performance. (See graphic).
‘On-time performance’ is an important indicator as it determines the quality of service, customer experience, and airport operation efficiency.
As per data obtained by The Indian Express using the Right To Information Act, of the 2,665 flights departed from the Pune airport in October 2023, 2,314 (86.8 per cent) departed on time or within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time. In the airline industry, an arrival or departure within 15 minutes of schedule is considered ‘on time’. In the month, departures of 169 (6.3 per cent) flights were delayed by 15 to 30 minutes and that of 182 (6.8% per cent) flights by more than 30 minutes.
Although three of the prominent airlines maintained an ‘on-time performance’ above the 85 per cent threshold, sub-par performance by SpiceJet (68 per cent), Star Air (80 per cent), Air Asia (81 per cent), and Alliance Air (16 per cent) adversely affected the passenger experience at Pune Airport. The Indian Express contacted SpiceJet, Air Asia and Air India Express for a comment but did not get any response.
Pune currently enjoys connectivity to 29 domestic and only two international destinations, mostly due to infrastructural limitations, with about 90 flights taking off and the same number landing at the airport daily. The new and expanded terminal building, which will considerably add to the airport’s capacity, is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
Joint general manager for operations (Pune airport) Jagdish Urkude said the ‘on-time performance’ of the airport was ‘outstanding’. “In case of the poor performance of some of the airlines, the regulatory authority (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) can direct them to improve it. There’s very little that we can do,” said Urkude.
Credit to the airlines, says aviation expert
Aviation expert Dhairyashil Vandekar said the numbers show that the punctuality performance of the Pune Airport has been satisfactory despite the limitations of the small airport shared with the defence authorities.
“It is to the credit of the airlines that despite the infrastructure limitations and other issues prevailing at the Pune airport, the majority of airlines operating out of Pune have shown remarkable punctuality. Normally, an on-time performance of 85 per cent and above is considered good as airlines operations depend on many parameters which at times are beyond the airlines’ control,” said Vandekar.
At the same time, Vandekar said the Pune airport’s performance couldn’t be compared with major airports as operations at these are more complex due to heavy international traffic and large cargo operations, making high punctuality a greater challenge.
“The majority of the bad publicity that the Pune airport gets is due to paucity of the facilities and delays in the flights connecting metro cities such as Delhi and Bangalore. Delays in a flight going to Bhopal don’t cause as much backlash as one going to Delhi as high-profile people travel to these destinations and they are often pressed for time. Airlines should make efforts to improve the punctuality for flights connecting metro cities to further improve customer satisfaction,” he said.