Better Late Than Never?

Last updated: January 22, 2012

Will your Indonesian domestic flight arrive on time? The public finally gets some answers, sort of.

Earlier this week, the Indonesian Department of Transport published statistics about the punctuality or “OTP” (on-time performance) of the six major Indonesian airlines between January and April 2011. Here are the results:

Do you want to view the latest statistics about flight delays and cancellations? Please click here. It is regularly updated as soon as the results become available.
Airline OTP


Both Garuda Indonesia/Citilink and Lion Air/Wings Air are counted together as they share the same management.

Despite the country being famous for its jam karet (“rubbery time”) and a relaxed attitude towards timeliness, Indonesia’s Department of Transport has a minimum standard OTP of 70%, signified above by a red line. The Department is also considering requiring airlines to pay monetary compensation for flight delays.

Lion Air and Batavia Air have therefore received a failing grade, and an official warning from Air Transport Director-General Herry Bakti Gumay (right). He recommended these two airlines improve their OTP to a minimum of 80%.

However, what the Department of Transport has not published as widely is its methodology. How many flights did it measure? At how many airports? It seems unlikely that Indonesian government officials were comparing flight schedules and actual departure/arrivals times continuously at every airport for four months, particularly when smaller airlines have not even received a score.

It also remains unclear how late/delayed a flight was before it counted as “not on time”, if they measured the boarding/departure/arrival time, and whether “re-timed” departures (i.e. airlines rescheduling the flight’s departure time at the last minute, usually later – see right) and flight cancellations affected the statistics.

Finally, it is not known if and how much the following factors impacted Indonesian airlines’ on-time performance:

Overloaded airports: in 2010, Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport handled 44 million passengers, when it’s only designed for a maximum capacity of 22 million.

Natural disasters: Volcanic eruptions at Mt Merapi near Yogyakarta (right) and Mt Bromo near Malang saw many flights diverted or cancelled.

Inclement weather: Tropical storms in the wet season (November-April) often play havoc with flight schedules, causing flights to be delayed or diverted, and occasionally airport closures due to flooded runways (right).

Some have already questioned the accuracy of the results, viewing with suspicion e.g. an Indonesian government department giving the top two places to Indonesian government-owned airlines.

Regardless of the quality of the results, a more pertinent question for visitors (especially when transiting and connecting to an international flight) is this: How to best avoid delays and problems?

(i) Fly with time to spare
Time your arrival to be 1-2 hours earlier than you need to be there. For routes with regular flights, choose a flight that is earlier than you need, so that you have something to fall back on if necessary. For more remote locations where flights are less frequent, consider flying a day earlier.

(ii) Fly in the morning
Tropical storms in the wet season tend to occur in early to mid-afternoon. Delays caused by overloaded airports tend to accumulate over the day, reaching its peak in the late afternoon.

(iii) Survey
Some of the larger Indonesian airport websites e.g. Jakarta, Denpasar, Surabaya, now have their flight status information available online. Check whether the flight/s you are considering taking departed on time that day.

Perhaps you have some local knowledge you would like to share. Here are some conversation starters, to get things rolling:

1. Are the results of the on-time performance survey similar or different to your experiences flying Indonesian domestic airlines?

2. This article gives some tips for travellers wishing to avoid delays and cancellations. What tips do you have for other travellers?

3. Do you think the Indonesian Department of Transport’s on-time performance pass mark of 70% is too low, too high or just right?

8 Comments on “Better Late Than Never?”

  1. aaaditya says:

    From my experience, batavia has a pretty good chance of being on time (>70%). But my experience is limited to pekanbaru, jakarta, and singapore (from semarang) flights.
    For some reason, sometimes the parking slot for budget airlines tend to be far, and it seems they get lower priority for the take-off queue. This translates to slightly longer wait on the plane.
    As for tips, anytime. I am flying with lion I always give around 4 hrs between flights. If I have exceess of time, I will just go to one of the lounges, which is included as my credit card benefit.

  2. stevo says:

    I think it would often be quicker walking than waiting for Lion Air to finally get you on the plane.

    The only people who should be allowed to run an airport are the Germans.

    The Americans are more interested in scanning your eyeballs and taking finger prints than running an airport :)

  3. timdog says:

    The big question – the question that hangs over all “puntuality statistics” worldwide, is were – is were different values placed on degrees of lateness? (The answer is, almost certainly not).

    Would you rather choose an airline where 70% of flights arrive ten minutes late, but very few delayed for much longer than that, or an airline where 30% of flights were late by SEVERAL HOURS?

    The later would often manage to get a better ranking in these kind of lists…

    Which leads me to mention having had to wait several HOURS beyond scheduled departure time for Merpati flights in the nether regions of Nusa Tenggara on a good few occassions…

  4. Oigal says:

    A few years back, took a international flight albeit a small plane (f/f) into PNG and whole country was shut. Seriously they had overlooked they had one plane to go for the day, 26 pax had to sit under the wing making signs at the cleaning lady inside the windows while she tried to telephone someone to open the doors and get customs to come back to work…Not quite the same as a late airline…but funny

  5. Chris says:

    Hi Timdog,

    You asked:

    The big question – the question that hangs over all “puntuality statistics” worldwide, is were different values placed on degrees of lateness? (The answer is, almost certainly not).

    I did find an international flight OTP statistics website with rating for Indonesian airlines. There is one called FlightStats. Unfortunately, the only Indonesian airline rated was Garuda. Its historical (not just today’s flights) score for OTP was 74%, and their score was mostly based on international flights, not domestic ones.

    For the record, they measure OTP as a delay of less than 15 minutes.

  6. Oigal says:

    I have to admit, Garuda is my airline of choice for international flights. Obviously not the very very best but by far best value for money in SE Asia. I have canceled trips when only airline available was the mangy roo.

  7. Chris says:

    As a point of contrast, here are some related articles about major international airlines with winning on-time performance:

    2010 Award Winning Airlines
    Japan Airlines won with 89.9% punctuality. Garuda wasn’t a finalist in the Major Asian Airlines category, although perhaps it isn’t large enough; the award stipulates a minimum of 30 000 flights annually.

    2011 World’s Most Punctual Airlines
    Just announced. The winner is Scandinavian Airline SAS (91.48%), followed by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.

  8. Oigal says:

    Have always like SAS Airline since one day traveling with them and the Stewardess found out the old couple next to me in economy were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with their first overseas holiday.

    The next thing we knew the Captain came down, congratulated them and moved them up to first class. The rest of the flight was dedicated to this couple, with such announcement as “We are now flying at 40,000 feet in honour of Mr and Mrs X” and “We hope you have enjoyed your flight with the Mr and Mrs X honorary flight and hope you will fly with us too, on your 50th anniversary”

    A nice touch and I think won them a lot of repeat clients.

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