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Flight-wait ‘champions’: The worst UK airports for delays

Flight-wait ‘champions’: The worst UK airports for delays
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

Gatwick is the worst airport in the UK for passenger delays, research reveals.

On average, departures from the second-busiest airport in the UK were behind schedule for an average of almost 27 minutes, a PA investigation using Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data shows.

In a statement, Gatwick blamed the high number of cancellations on “poor weather, airspace constraints across Europe and insufficient third-party ground operations.”

It also noted the West Sussex site is “working closely with our airline partners to improve on-time performance”, ahead of plans to improve the infrastructure of the facilities there “to build the resilience of the airport.”

Luton airport followed in second place, with passenger delays clocking up 22 minutes and 54 seconds.

Landing in third place for delays was Manchester – voted the UK’s worst airport last year – as travellers waited just shy of 22 minutes for delayed flights.

Edinburgh only Scottish airport in top 10 delays

Meanwhile, Scotland’s sole representative in the top 10 was Edinburgh, which had 14.4 million passengers travelling through there in 2023.

Passengers had to hang around for an average of 21 minutes for their flight in the capital city, according to a study of airports that had at least 1,000 departures last year.

Meanwhile, with holidaymakers soon to be making their summer getaways, Tim Johnson, director at the UK CAA, thinks it is important for airports to “focus on resilience and work together to plan ahead.”

Johnson said: “Consumers rightfully deserve a quality service they can rely on. The industry understands this and is continuing its efforts to improve the passenger experience.

“Where people do find themselves facing disruption, we want them to be well-informed about the duty of care that they are entitled to.”

‘Cannot be the new normal’

Naomi Leach, Which? Travel deputy editor, said: “It’s clear from these latest figures that millions of passengers continued to experience unacceptably long hold-ups last year.”

Leach added: “This cannot be allowed to become the new normal.”

Defending the results, the Airport Operators Association said: “Airports work extremely hard to minimise delays while providing a positive, safe and secure experience for passengers.”

The trade body wrote: “These figures do not provide any of the context around operating in a global environment and do not give the travelling public a clear picture of how air travel operates.”

Below is a graph of the worst offenders for delays from PA Media, using the CAA’s data.

The top 10 airports for delays

Longest UK airport delays

(Click to enlarge)