UK Flights’ punctuality improves in the last quarter of 2013

Date: 14 April 2014

• In the last quarter of 2013, 80% of scheduled flights were on-time, one percentage point higher than during the last quarter of 2012.
• 2013 annual on-time performance for scheduled flights remains the same as 2012 at 80%
• Over the whole of 2013, amongst the 10 airports monitored, Heathrow registered the lowest on-time performance for scheduled flights, with 76% of flights departing or arriving on time. London City registered the highest on-time performance of 89%.

Data published by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that during October to December 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 80%, one percentage point higher than during the fourth quarter of 2012. The average delay across all scheduled flights monitored was 12 minutes, the same as in the last quarter of 2012. However, on-time performance for charter flights increased by three percentage points and average delay fell by four minutes. Over the whole year, punctuality remained the same in 2013 as 2012, with 80% of flights on time.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, there were 324,000 scheduled and 13,000 charter passenger flights at the ten airports monitored for punctuality by the CAA. This represents a 2.7% increase in the number of scheduled flights and a 0.7% fall in the number of charter flights, compared with the same quarter in 2012.

Iain Osborne, Group Director for Regulatory Policy at the CAA, said:
“Whilst it is pleasing to see the majority of passengers arrived at their destination in good time at the end of last year, our figures show that too many people still had their flights disrupted by delays. We also know there were a number of cancellations during December that will have disrupted other passengers.

“Some severe weather clearly played a part in this, but there is still room for improvement. Airports, airlines and air traffic control service providers all have a role to play in delivering that improvement and it is vital they work together to make sure fewer passengers have their journeys disrupted by delays and cancellations.”

Scheduled Flights
On-time performance for scheduled flights at London airports increased by one percentage point to 78% and the average delay remained unchanged at 13 minutes between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the same quarter in 2013. Gatwick’s on-time performance increased by two percentage points to 79%. Heathrow, Stansted and Luton’s on-time performances increased by one percentage point to 75%, 82% and 81% respectively. London City’s on-time performance was unchanged at 87%. In addition, Heathrow and Luton’s average delay fell by one minute, while Gatwick Stansted and London City’s average delay remained unchanged, in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared with the same quarter in 2012.

At the airports outside of London monitored, both on-time performance and average delays remained unchanged at 83% and 10 minutes respectively. Compared with the same quarter in 2012, on-time performance increased at by two percentage points at Manchester and Newcastle, and by one percentage point at Edinburgh. On-time performance remained unchanged at Glasgow and fell by two percentage points at Birmingham.

Charter Flights
In the last quarter of 2013, on-time performance of charter flights increased by three percentage points to 77%. Average delay across all charter flights monitored was 15 minutes, a fall of four minutes compared with the last quarter of 2012. At airports outside of London, on-time performance increased by three percentage points to 79% and average delay fell by six minutes. However, at London airports, on-time performance and average delay remained unchanged with 73% of charter flights being early or on-time, and with an average delay of 18 minutes.

Destinations with most flights
Among the 75 scheduled international destinations with the most flights in the fourth quarter of 2013 (covering routes with between 900 and 13,300 flights in the quarter), flights to and from Rotterdam recorded the highest on-time performance of 86.4% and Berlin (Schönefeld) the lowest average delay of 8.1 minutes. Flights to and from Tel Aviv achieved the lowest on-time performance of 66.6% and Toronto the highest average delay of 20.8 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 other UK airports: Historic Data

2. The CAA statistics on punctuality of passenger flights at ‘London airports’: Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and London City, and other ‘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.