Published on Monday, March 7, 2016

Punctuality at UK airports reaches five-year low

Punctuality at UK airports dipped to a five-year low last summer as passenger numbers rose to record levels.

According to the latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority, overall on-time performance at 24 UK airports dropped from 76% to 73% in the July to September period, compared with the same three months in 2014.

Punctuality at London airports dropped from 73% to 69% and, although regional airports performed better, punctuality still slipped from 80% to 77%.

Across all 24 airports, the average delay rose by one minute to 15 minutes compared to summer 2014.

Punctuality at London Gatwick was the lowest, with an average delay of 23 minutes, even worse than last summer's 21 minutes.

Average delays at London Heathrow, meanwhile, rose slightly from 14 minutes to 15 minutes year-on-year.

London Stansted improved its performance the most, shaving two minutes off average delays to 12 minutes.

The dip in on-time performance came as passenger numbers reached the highest ever, hitting a new peak of over 78 million for the summer (up 5.5%) and 250 million for the rolling 12 month total.

The rise was mostly driven by larger and fuller aircraft rather than the number of flights.

Although the number of commercial summer flights grew by 2.5% year-on-year, they were still 9% down on the 2007 peak.

"The first three quarters in 2015 have been the strongest for passenger numbers since records began," said CAA policy director Tim Johnson.

"Airlines are accommodating the continuing strong passenger demand by carrying the extra passengers on larger aircraft, rather than increasing the number of flights significantly.

"However, punctuality was the worst of any summer period since 2010 - something we know many passengers will have found frustrating and an issue airlines, airports and air traffic control services should work to address.

"The strong passenger demand and a drop in punctuality also underlines the importance of addressing the ongoing pressures on runway capacity in the South East and the need to modernise the UK's airspace."

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