Flight delays across several airlines operating in the UK have more than doubled in the past four years, according to a new report.
Data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), analysed by consumer choice organisation Which?, showed eight of Britain’s 10 busiest carriers had recorded an increase in delays of more than an hour. The hold-ups affected around 17 million passengers last year alone.
Budget airline Thomas Cook recorded the worst delays among major airlines, with its passengers having a one-in-nine chance of arriving more than an hour late. This was a rise from 7% in 2014, the report found.
Among other low-cost airlines, easyjet (8.7%, up from 4.5%), Tui (8.1%, up from 5.5%) and Ryanair (7.8%, up from 3%), all became significantly more delayed over the four-year period.
Which? said 6.2% of all incoming and outgoing flights were delayed by more than an hour last year, compared with just over 4% in 2014. While some causes – such as strikes and bad weather – were beyond the airlines’ control, Which? said the management of airspace over Britain and Europe was “in dire need of modernisation”.
“Our skies are getting busier and, as a consequence, slower,” the report said. “There were more than 2.25 million aircraft movements across the UK last year compared with just over 1.5 million in 2014.
“UK airspace – the motorways and roundabouts of the sky – has failed to keep pace with this surge in traffic; it hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1950s, and the CAA acknowledge that this is a reason for increased delays.
“The government body has committed to modernising UK airspace, but the first phase of this modernisation won’t be complete until 2025. Delays could get worse before they get better.”
Thomas Cook and easyjet have blamed their delays on factors beyond their control, while Ryanair claimed the Which? figures were “inflated and inaccurate”, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.