South African Airways tops our Airline Ranking 2019, with a score of 7.4 out of 10.
The African airline shares the podium with Scandinavian Airlines and KLM, respectively 2nd and 3rd.
South African Airways is among the most punctual airlines in the world
In 2018, only 17.77% of their flights were delayed. By comparison, the industry average is 24.30%.
The average delay of their flights, 43 minutes, was slightly inferior to the industry average of 47 minutes.
South African Airlines' solid flight performance is the 13th best in the world.
South African Airways is also one the best airlines when it comes to compensating their passengers
Passengers whose flight was cancelled or delayed by 3 hours or more might be entitled to up to 600€ in compensation, as prescribed by the EU Regulation 261/2004.
South African Airways has proven particularly efficient at processing these compensation claims: it took the African airline 22 days on average to pay what it owed to its clients.
A performance again way better than the industry average, that stands at 4 months (a 3-week increase compared to 2017).
The African airline eclipses its usual competitors
South African Airways usually fights for the title of "best airline in the world" with the popular Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad.
But in 2018, there was no competition among them.
South African Airways shined in what travelers actually care about: punctually and the quality of service when things don't go as planned.
While Etihad's flight performance was better than that of South African Airways, with only 15.29% of delayed flights and an average delay of 39.5 minutes, they didn't stand the comparison in terms of claim processing, compensating their clients in over 100 days. Etihad ranks at the 9th position of our ranking.
Qatar was even more punctual, with a mere 14.07% of delayed flights - but they were even worse than Etihad at applying the EU Regulation. They rank 15th.
But Singapore Airlines did even worse, compensating its clients in about a year (!) and are not part of our top 20. Singapore Airlines and Emirates respectively rank 44th and 48th.
One of the worst airlines is also African
African Airlines seems to be the exception that proves the rule.
The 2nd best African airline, Kenya Airways, ranks far behind, at the 24th position only, with a score of 5.6 out of 10, although it operated more 50% less flights than South African Airways.
That being said, Kenyan Airways did a great job of processing passenger claims, paying the compensations in less than 2 months.
Tunisair, on the other hand, has absolutely nothing to be proud of. In 2018, 4 out of 10 flights of the Tunisian air carrier arrived late: that's the worst on-time performance in the world.
As though that weren't enough, Tunisair didn't pay compensations to air passengers in 2018 and keeps refusing to deal with claims filed through a specialized agency by their clients who did not wish to handle the process themselves.