More than 10 per cent of holiday charter flights using UK airports were at least an hour late last summer, according to figures published today.
The misery for holidaymakers was highlighted in the latest Air Transport Users Council (AUC) delays league table. It reveals that of the big six UK carriers, Excel Airways had the worst performance with more than 14 per cent of its flights at least an hour late. First Choice came out best with nearly 6 per cent of its flights running late.
The report shows that delays are increasing. In all, 10.9 per cent of charter flights operated by the 25 leading holiday airlines were more than one hour late during summer last year. This compared with 9.3 per cent of charter flights which were more than an hour late during the previous year’s summer, and 7.8 per cent in summer 2003.
This translated to an average delay to charter flights last summer of 28 minutes compared with 23.4 minutes in summer 2004 and 19.7 minutes in summer 2003.
The AUC said it was ‘disappointed’ to see the drop in punctuality. It had hoped that new EU compensation rules on delayed charter flights would motivate airlines to do better. The AUC acknowledged that half of flight delays are caused by air traffic control.
AUC chair Tina Tietjen said: ‘We appreciate that delays can be caused by a number of external factors…that are out of airlines’ control. But a significant proportion of delays are within the control of the airlines.’
Delays ‘creeping up again’
Lorna Cowan, Editor of Holiday Which?, said: ‘These findings are in line with our own delay survey. The worst destinations for delays were Sanford, in Florida, followed by Dalaman in Turkey, Corfu and Athens.
‘It’s bad news for passengers that delays are creeping up yet again and it’s worth remembering that you will have to be delayed at least two hours before you are entitled to food or refreshment.’
The best-performing carrier last summer was Spain’s Volar Airlines which had only 5.5 per cent of flights more than one hour late. Thomsonfly came in with 6.4 per cent, My Travel 8.5 per cent, Thomas Cook airlines 11.9 per cent and Monarch 12.8 per cent.
The figures relate to flights in and out of nine UK airports – Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle and Stansted.