Air travellers were hit with ‘unacceptable’ delays last year with more than a third of flights to and from UK airports failing to stick to the schedules.
The revelations come against the background of warnings that many of the biggest airlines are failing on customer service, paying compensation and refunds.
Some 37 per cent of flights were at least 15 minutes late, according to new data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). That is up from 17 per cent in both of the preceding two years and 25 per cent in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic affected air travel.
The figures also show that flights last year were delayed by an average of 22 minutes, which is 60 per cent longer than in 2019.
Around 2 per cent of flights were cancelled in 2022, with May and June the worst affected months as the aviation sector failed to recruit and train enough staff to cope with a surge in demand for holidays.
Among the 10 busiest UK airports, Glasgow had the highest proportion of cancelled flights at 2.5 per cent, followed by London Heathrow with 1.7 per cent.
Among the 10 busiest UK airports, Glasgow had the highest proportion of cancelled flights at 2.5 per cen
More than 224 million passengers travelled through UK airports last year. This was more than three times higher than the figure for 2021 but was just three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels.
CAA head of consumers Anna Bowles said: ‘More than three times as many people flew into and from UK airports last year compared with 2021, demonstrating a clear wish by consumers to return to travel as Covid restrictions were lifted, and giving industry a well-needed boost after a difficult few years.
‘That bounce back in passenger numbers was at times overshadowed by the challenges that the aviation sector faced in the early summer of 2022, which saw an unacceptable level of flight cancellations and delays.
‘We expect to see increased resilience and continued improved performance by airlines in 2023, giving passengers the experience they expect and the confidence to continue to return to travel.’ Just last week, Which? revealed that major are failing to offer proper refunds when cancelling flights with thousands of passengers forced to take them to court to claim back millions of pounds.
It found that County Court Judgements (CCJs) totalling £4.5m had piled up against airlines, including Wizz Air, EasyJet, Ryanair, and Tui.
Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, Rocio Concha, said: ‘These dreadful performance figures will be unsurprising to anyone who endured the widespread chaos at UK airports last year.
‘Which? has received hundreds of testimonies from travellers left high and dry by airlines when their flights were cancelled or delayed, from people abandoned in airports to seek emergency accommodation and alternative flights home, to those still chasing compensation months later.
‘Airlines’ unacceptable treatment of passengers cannot be allowed to stand. We are calling on the Transport Secretary to act without delay and give the Civil Aviation Authority the powers it needs to fine airlines when they break the law and fail in their responsibility to passengers.’
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