UK Flights' punctuality falls in the final quarter of 2012

Date: 20 March 2013

• In the fourth quarter of 2012, 79% of scheduled flights were on-time, a decrease of one percentage point compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.
• Gatwick registered the biggest fall in on-time performance (five percentage points).
• Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Newcastle all registered an increase in average delay of three minutes.

Data published by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that during October to December 2012, 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 79%, a fall of one percentage point compared with the last quarter of 2011. The average delay across all scheduled flights monitored was 12 minutes, one minute more than in the fourth quarter of 2011.

In the fourth quarter of this year, there were 316,000 scheduled and 13,000 charter passenger flights at the ten airports monitored for punctuality by the CAA. This represents a 1% decrease in scheduled flights and a 5.4% decrease in charter flights, compared with the same quarter in 2011.

Iain Osborne, Group Director for Regulatory Policy at the CAA, said: “Whilst most passengers travelling at the end of last year arrived at their destination in reasonable time, many will be disappointed that performance has dropped, not improved. Even taking into account bad weather, the figures show there is a clear need for further efforts to improve the experience of passengers flying from UK airports.”

“It’s therefore important that airports, airlines and air traffic control work together to look at how best to prevent delays, and ensure passengers continue to benefit from the excellent choice and value the UK aviation market offers.”

Scheduled Flights

On-time performance for scheduled flights at London airports fell by three percentage points to 77% and the average delay increased by two minutes to 12 minutes between the last quarter of 2011 and the same quarter in 2012. Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow’s on-time performance fell by five, four and three percentage points respectively. Luton and London City’s increased by two percentage points. Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow’s average delay all increased by three minutes, Luton’s increased by one minute and London City’s fell by one minute.

At the regional airports monitored in the fourth quarter of 2012, on-time performance increased by three percentage points to 83% and average delay fell by one minute to 10 minutes. Birmingham had 85% scheduled flights on time, the highest among the regional airports. Compared with the same period in 2011 on-time performance increased by four percentage points at Manchester: increased by three percentage points at Edinburgh: remained unchanged at Birmingham and Glasgow; and fell by three percentage points at Newcastle.

Charter Flights

In the last quarter of 2012, punctuality of charter flights, in contrast with scheduled flights, showed a slight improvement. The proportion of on-time charter flights remained at 74% but average delay across all charter flights monitored in the last quarter of 2012 was 19 minutes, a fall of two minutes compared with the last quarter of 2011. The best on-time performance for charter flights was registered at Birmingham with 84% on-time.

Destinations with most flights

Among the 75 scheduled international destinations with the most flights in the fourth quarter of 2012 (covering routes with between 900 and 12,900 flights in the quarter), flights to and from Delhi (India) recorded the lowest on-time performance of 62.4% and flights to and from Modlin (Poland) the highest average delay of 23.7 minutes. Flights to and from Rotterdam achieved the best punctuality with an on-time performance of 88.2% and the lowest average delay of 7.4 minutes.

For more information contact the CAA press office on: 020 7453 6030.

Follow the CAA on Twitter at @UK_CAA

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. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.