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Published on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Airlines accused of padding out schedules to dodge delay payouts

Airlines are being accused of tinkering with their flight schedules in order to improve their punctuality ratings and avoid paying out delay compensation.

An investigation by Which?, based on the timetables of aviation data company OAG, found scheduled flight times are up to 35 minutes slower this summer than a decade ago.

Which? said according to airlines' timetables, 76 out of the 125 flights it analysed now take longer than in 2008.

This included nine out of 11 Ryanair routes, nine of 12 Virgin Atlantic flights and 16 of 26 Easyjet flights examined.

It said timetables show British Airways flights from Heathrow to Bangkok, New York and Singapore were extended by 20 minutes, EasyJet's London Gatwick to Berlin Schonefeld service is scheduled to take 19 minutes longer and Virgin's London Heathrow to Newark Liberty International route has increased by 35 minutes.

Which? quoted Keith Mason, professor of air transport management at Cranfield University, as saying airlines regularly use 'schedule padding' to give themselves some 'wiggle room'.

This would allow them to improve their punctuality and to avoid paying delay compensation.

But BA, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic claimed they were flying aircraft at slower speeds to reduce fuel consumption.

BA pointed out that air congestion in Europe was another factor.


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  • I totally agree

    With Richard English. Is it not better to have longer block times to keep an aircraft on schedule, than try to run a schedule where all turnarounds MUST be 25mins/45mins or an hour and the winds MUST be in the right direction and at the right speed. There are so many unknowns in keeping aircraft on schedule, better to have one less flight a day than to have delays of any length.

    By Elaine Molyneux, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

  • But surely...

    ... timetables have been "padded" ever since 1839 , when Bradshaw published the first railway timetable. Any timetable that showed a schedule that could only be kept to if every single aspect of every single journey was always 100% favourable. In any transport undertaking there is much reliance on all kinds of external factors that are out of the control of the transport operator and it makes sense to allow for these things. This is not only for the benefit of the carrier but also for the benefit of the passengers, who can make plans secure in the knowledge that their service will arrive on time or early. Government interference in matters they know nothing about and imposing fines for non-adherence to a timetable, is just one more factor that has to be taken into account when compiling a timetable - and this is just what has happened here - as any expert on scheduling would have been able to say would happen.

    By Richard English, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

  • Nothing new there.......

    Airlines have been doing that for ages. I remember Heathrow to Glasgow taking about an hour - in a Vanguard!

    By Peter Mannell, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

  • Market will decide

    So, trains are going faster and aircraft are going slower. Consumers will choose the better option in the end.

    By John Mc Quillan, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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