According to the latest statistics, flights from some of UK’s most busy airports are twice as likely to be delayed today, than they were 5 years ago. In terms of percentage, the increase is said to be around the 45% i.e. the number of delays over the past 5 years has risen to 45%. When comparing the numbers provided by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) for the period 2011-16, it was found that flights are far more likely to be delayed today, than they were 5 years ago.
Gatwick was identified as the biggest offender with 45% of flights being delayed by over 15 minutes. In 2011, the figure was 24%. Delays were observed with other major UK airports as well. For instance, Stansted was found to have 31% delays in 2016 compared to 18% in 2011. Similarly, Heathrow was found to have 23% delays in 2016 while in 2011, it was around 19%. Manchester saw around 30% of its flights being delayed in 2016 while the number was lower at 23% in 2011. Birmingham was right behind Manchester with 29% delays in 2016 compared to 16% in 2011.
Causes for Delay
According to airFAir Managing Director, Steven Bell, flight delays were inevitable due to an increase in the number of passengers and routes. Bell went on to add that not all delays were caused by airlines. However, he did mention that there were scenarios where compensation to the passenger seemed fair. This typically included scenarios involving technical issues and staffing problems etc.
Regulations set by the EU make it very clear that passengers must be compensated for delays that last longer than 3 hours. This applies to airports that are located within the EU and to flights that fly en route to any country that is a member of the EU. The compensation due to the passenger isn’t determined based on the cost of the ticket. However, it is determined on the basis of the distance being traveled and the duration of the delay. This allows passengers to claim compensations of up to €600 or £480.
According to a Gatwick representative, a majority of the delays have been caused primarily due to issues outside of the airport’s control. The representative specifically referred to the sheer congestion plaguing European skies and the ever-present strikes that often paralyse all operations. But, despite these problems, Gatwick continues to install new infrastructure and make improvements in order to reduce delays.
Like Gatwick, Heathrow has also stated that it takes punctuality seriously and is always finding ways to reduce delays. For instance, the airport recently increased its runway capacity. On the other hand, Manchester attributes its delays to a variety of factors. Even so, the airport claims that it does everything possible to reduce delays.
Stansted claimed that its runways performed at maximum efficiency even during peak times and that it often worked with other entities to ensure that delays were always minimised. However, the airport added, that it wasn’t always within its control to prevent some delays.