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Which? reveals top 10 worst UK flight routes for delays

Written by: Emma Lunn
London Stansted is the worst airport for flight delays, with one in 10 flights late, according to Which?

The consumer champion analysed Civil Aviation Authority flight data to determine the UK’s top 10 most delayed flight routes.

It found Stansted to be the UK airport where passengers were most likely to be delayed in 2018, and declared Ryanair the least punctual airline.

However, it was Thomas Cook which owned the flight route with the worst punctuality record last year. A quarter (24.1 per cent) of flights between Stansted and Dalaman with the tour operator were delayed by more than an hour in 2018. This figure increased to about a third (36 per cent) for those who travelled in July.

Ryanair dominates late flight list

Ryanair’s route between Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Italy’s Milan Malpensa Airport was in second place. Passengers flying this route last year had a one in five (22.4 per cent) chance of their flight being delayed by an hour or more.

Thomas Cook’s route between Stansted and Antalya was little better, coming in as the third most delayed and affecting one in five (22.2 per cent) flights.

Seven of the UK’s 10 most delayed routes belonged to Ryanair. Five of them were on flights to or from Stansted; to Nice in France, Leipzig in Germany, Luxembourg, Billund in Denmark, and Bari in Italy.

easyJet completed the top 10 most delayed routes of 2018, with one in five (18.6 per cent) of its flights from Stansted to Ibiza late by an hour or more.

Expect delays at Stansted

Stansted was the UK’s worst performing airport for delays in 2018, with more than 10 per cent of its flights departing an hour late, and an average delay of nearly half an hour.

High-profile walkouts by Ryanair’s pilots and cabin crew certainly played their part in Stansted’s poor performance. But even if Ryanair flights had been excluded from the analysis, Which? says Stansted would still have come out as the worst UK airport for punctuality.

While the airlines offered a range of explanations for their poor performance – including issues with weather, airspace or strikes – the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, commonly known as Eurocontrol, told Which? the carriers themselves were most often to blame for delays.

Naomi Leach, spokeperson for Which? Travel said: “The last thing holidaymakers want when they’re looking forward to their trip is to be stuck at the departure gate or on the tarmac, waiting to leave. So it’s unacceptable to see some airlines show such blatant disregard to their passengers by performing so poorly on punctuality.

“Not only are these delays inconvenient, but they can also leave people hundreds of pounds out of pocket when they miss connections or transfers, are fined for picking up their hire car late or miss their train or cab home. The worst airlines and airports need to ensure they have the staff and capacity to run an on time service – and that they look after their customers if delays do occur.”

Flight delay compensation

Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to compensation if they arrive more than three hours late to their destination.

You can claim up to €600 per passenger – around £520 depending on the exchange rate – if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

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