UK flights’ punctuality falls in the first quarter of 2013

Date: 12 July 2013

• In the first quarter of 2013, 78% of scheduled flights were on-time, a decrease of four percentage points compared to the first quarter of 2012.
• All ten airports monitored saw falls in on-time performance and increases in average delay.
• Newcastle and Gatwick registered the biggest declines in on-time performance of ten and seven percentage points, respectively.

Data published by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that during January to March 2013, the overall on-time performance (defined as the proportion of flights arriving or departing early, or up to 15 minutes late) of scheduled flights at the ten UK airports monitored was 78%, a fall of four percentage point compared with the first quarter of 2012. The average delay across all scheduled flights monitored was 13 minutes, three minutes more than in the first quarter of 2012.

In the first quarter of this year, there were 297,000 scheduled and 11,000 charter passenger flights at the ten airports monitored for punctuality by the CAA. This represents a 4.0% decrease in scheduled flights and a 4.4% decrease in charter flights, compared with the same quarter in 2012.

Iain Osborne, Group Director for Regulatory Policy at the CAA, said:
“Passengers have a right to expect their flight to get them to their destination on time, so it’s disappointing to see that flight punctuality fell during the first quarter of this year.

“And whilst it’s true that the majority of passengers did still arrive at their destination in reasonable time, it’s regrettable that a large number of people also endured delays – even taking into account the poor weather at the start of the year. We now call on airlines, airports and air traffic control to work together to consider how best to prevent delays and improve flight punctuality across the board.”

Scheduled Flights
On-time performance for scheduled flights at London airports fell by six percentage points to 76% and the average delay increased by three minutes to 14 minutes between the first quarter of 2012 and the same quarter in 2013. Gatwick and Heathrow’s on-time performance fell by seven and five percentage points, respectively. Stansted’s on-time performance fell by four percentage points, Luton’s by three and London City’s by one percentage point. Gatwick’s average delay increased by four minutes, Heathrow’s increased by three minutes, Stansted and Luton’s increased by two minutes and London City’s increased by one minute.

At the regional airports monitored in the first quarter of 2013, on-time performance fell by three percentage points to 81% and average delay increased by two minutes to 12 minutes. Compared with the same period in 2012, on-time performance fell at all the regional airports monitored. On-time performance fell by ten percentage points at Newcastle, five at Birmingham, four at Glasgow, two at Manchester and one percentage point at Edinburgh.

Charter Flights
In the first quarter of 2013, punctuality of charter flight fell by two percentage points to 69%. However, average delay across all charter flights monitored in the first quarter of 2013 was 21 minutes, a fall of one minute compared with the first quarter of 2012. The best on-time performance for charter flights was registered at Glasgow with 81% of flights on-time.

Destinations with most flights
Among the 75 scheduled international destinations with the most flights in the first quarter of 2013 (covering routes with between 800 and 12,100 flights in the quarter), flights to and from Dubai recorded the lowest on-time performance of 55.9% and flights to and from Abu Dhabi the highest average delay of 24.3 minutes. Flights to and from Antwerp achieved the best punctuality with an on-time performance of 90.8% and the lowest average delay of 6.7 minutes.

For further media information contact the CAA Press Office on: 020 7453 6030.

Notes to Editors

1. Tables containing more information are below:
• Quarterly punctuality data broken down by airport and scheduled vs charter flights: Quarterly results
• Delay statistics for the Top 75 most visited international destinations on scheduled flights: Top 75 Airports
• Historic punctuality data on a Quarter by Quarter basis broken down by London and Regional airports: Historic Data

2. The CAA statistics on punctuality of passenger flights at ‘London Airports’: Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and London City, and ‘Regional airports’: Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow cover both arrivals and departures. Actual times of operation are derived from air transport movements returns made to the CAA, which are compared with planned arrival and departure times supplied by Airport Co-ordination Ltd. Figures for Glasgow Airport became available in July 1993, Newcastle and Edinburgh airports from April 1996 and London City from April 1997. All other airports report from April 1989.

3. It should be noted that the statistics in this notice cover only those flights which were operated; they do not cover those flights which were cancelled. Some airport or airline business models prioritise delaying flights rather than cancelling them outright.

4. Delays can occur for a variety of reasons. Operating circumstances, both within and without the airline’s control, also vary by route and by type of service. These tables are not intended and should not be treated as a direct comparison between scheduled and charter services.

5. In these punctuality data, 'delay' is recorded as the difference between an aircraft's scheduled and actual arrival or departure time at the airport terminal. It does not therefore measure any delay, such as that due to congestion, which has already been allowed for in the planned flight times of the service.

6. Punctuality data are published monthly and annually in summary and in full on the CAA website: For data queries please contact one of our analysts at the Civil Aviation Authority, Aviation Intelligence, K4, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway, London WC2B 6TE, telephone 020 7453 6245.

7. On-time performance and delay is calculated from the scheduled on-stand time (provided by Airport Co-ordination Ltd.), the reported runway time (provided by the airport) and the expected time an aircraft takes to travel between a stand and the runway (taxiing time - calculated from historic data). The use of average taxi times is sufficient for calculating an aggregate level of on-time performance, but would not be suitable for reviewing the punctuality of an individual flight.

8. In 2009, the CAA, in consultation with the airports, undertook a review of the taxiing time assumptions, and updated the values used for quarter 1 2009 data onwards. To ensure that the comparison is like-for-like, the punctuality data for 2008 has also been recalculated using the revised taxiing time assumptions.

9. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its regulatory activities range from making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards to preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency.

10. The information contained in this report has been compiled from various sources and it is not possible for the CAA to verify whether it is accurate, nor does the CAA undertake to do so. Consequently the CAA cannot accept any liability for any financial loss caused by any person's reliance on it.