Most delayed flights from UK airports revealed

Airport departures board Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The average delay is about 15 minutes

Air passengers using London Gatwick face the most flight delays in the UK, the BBC can reveal.

Aviation data analysed by BBC News uncovered the routes and airports where customers faced the worst punctuality.

On average, passengers using Gatwick experienced delays of 18 minutes per flight. The airport said it regretted any delays.

The most delay-afflicted flight was from Manchester to New York which was delayed by an average of 88 minutes.

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The BBC England data unit analysed Civil Aviation Authority data from January 2015 to March 2016.

The investigation showed:

  • A Pakistan International Airlines flight from Manchester to New York's John F Kennedy Airport was late on eight out of 10 recorded flights in 2015
  • Turkmenistan Airlines had the highest number of delays with passengers waiting on average 70 minutes beyond their scheduled time
  • The average delay among all airlines was about 15 minutes
  • Gatwick's punctuality record compared with an average of 13 minute delays at Heathrow, the only airport with a larger number of flights, and just under 11 minutes per flight from Newcastle Airport over the same period

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said: "We regret any delays our passengers experience however several incidents beyond Gatwick's control influenced the airport's performance during this period, including numerous air traffic control strikes across European airspace, impacting the airport's whole flight schedule including our long haul routes.

"Gatwick has more flights to Europe than any UK airport and can therefore be impacted disproportionately by events on the continent."

Out of 129 Pakistan International Airlines flights from Manchester to New York between January 2015 and March 2016, delays totalled almost 190 hours, an average of 88 minutes per departure.

A spokesman for Manchester Airport said: "The Pakistan International Airlines service doesn't impact on any other flights operating from Manchester."

The airline has been approached for a comment.

Delay compensation: Your rights

There are different rules for compensation for delays depending on the length of the flight and its destination.

To be covered by the law flights have to depart from an airport in a European Union country or Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, or they need to be run by a UK or EU airline flying to one of those countries.

For a short-haul flight, covering less than 1,500km (932 miles), passengers can claim £215 (€250) if the delay was more than three hours and it was the fault of the airline.

For medium-haul flights, covering between 1,500km and 3,500km (2,175 miles), the compensation is £345 (€400).

For long-haul flights, a delay of three to four hours means compensation of €300. Anyone delayed more than four hours can claim £517 (€600).

Source: Civil Aviation Authority

The UK's most-delayed flight

Manchester to New York JFK with Pakistan International Airlines

88 minutes

Average delay per flight

  • 56% of flights between 30 minutes and 1 hour late in March 2016

  • 22% were between an hour and 3 hours late

  • 22% were between 16 and 30 minutes late

Press Association

The next most delayed flight was the Turkmenistan Airlines service from Heathrow to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, with 19,302 minutes of delays out of 259 flights, equivalent to almost an hour and a quarter per flight.

Flights to Chambéry in France, typically popular for skiing holidays, also made up four of the 10 most delayed flights. However, operator Jet2.com, which ran three of those, stopped flying to Chambéry from UK airports in April 2016.

Most delayed flights
Airport Destination Carrier Average delay
Manchester New York (John F Kennedy) Pakistan International Airlines 88 minutes
Heathrow Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Airlines 75 minutes
Birmingham Islamabad Pakistan International Airlines 73 minutes
Birmingham Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Airlines 68 minutes
Manchester Chambéry Jet2.com 62 minutes
Leeds Bradford Chambéry Jet2.com 60 minutes
Gatwick Chambéry Thomson Airways 56 minutes
Manchester Islamabad Pakistan International Airlines 53 minutes
Manchester Lahore Pakistan International Airlines 49 minutes
East Midlands Chambéry Jet2.com 49 minutes
  • Figures above are only those with at least one departure per week on average between January 2015 and March 2016.

How a 4-hour journey became 14

Image copyright Andrea Jones
Image caption Andrea Jones with husband John and son Daniel in Sanday, after a journey lasting 14 hours.

Delayed flights have a knock-on effect for passengers who need to catch a connecting service.

Mother of two Andrea Jones and her family found a journey that should have taken less than four hours actually ended up taking 14.

The IT trainer from Shrewsbury was flying from Birmingham to Orkney, via Edinburgh with husband John and children Sam and Daniel on 10 August.

Their Flybe flight was scheduled to leave Birmingham at 07:00 BST and arrive in Edinburgh at 08:15, where they would catch a plane to Kirkwall leaving at 09:35 and get them to the Orkneys for 10:50.

Mrs Jones said: "We left Birmingham at 08:45 and arrived 09:55 and missed this connection. There was no room for our family of four on the 14:35 flight so we were put on the 17:50 flight. The 17:50 was then delayed until 20:00 and finally arrived at 21:20. The first delay was due to crewing issues. A pilot was booked for the flight but had to delay otherwise he would have gone over his hours allowed to work without rest. A second delay was due to technical issues.

"At Edinburgh we left the airport and made a quick visit to the Fringe, but we had planned to take a circular bus tour of the Orkney mainland. We missed the chance to do any sightseeing on the Orkney mainland. It was straight to bed in a hostel and then we caught the ferry to Sanday at 07:00.

"If we were going to the Orkneys again I think we would be seriously tempted to take the car."

Analysis by consumer group Which? suggested almost a quarter (24%) of the 1.9 million flights to or from the UK between April 2015 and March 2016 were delayed by 15 minutes or more.

Alex Neill, Which? director of policy and campaigns, said: "Arriving at the airport to discover your flight has been delayed is incredibly frustrating, and something thousands of holidaymakers will encounter this summer.

"We know that tens of thousands of passengers on late running flights aren't claiming the compensation they're due and so we encourage people to claim what they're rightly entitled to."

A CAA spokesman said a record 257 million passengers used UK airports in 2015, surpassing the previous peak of 242 million reached in 2007.

"Arriving on time clearly matters to passengers and we expect airlines, airports and air traffic control to work together to improve punctuality," he said.

The British Air Transport Association, which represents UK airlines, said aviation across Europe had seen "huge turmoil" in the past year.

Chief executive Tim Alderslade said: "UK airlines need to provide good customer service to attract passengers in the highly competitive market in which they operate. Delays occur for a variety of reasons - for example, this year European aviation has experienced huge turmoil with air traffic controller strikes in France causing hundreds of cancellations and time-consuming detours. Far too many journeys are also being disrupted by a lack of resilience in our airspace - the UK's critical but invisible infrastructure - and more needs to be done by the Government to prioritise and support the modernisation of our airspace so that we can safely and effectively handle the 350 million passengers and 3.1 million aircraft that we expect to see in our skies by 2030."

Turkmenistan Airlines has been approached for comment.

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