Our latest flight statistics present an undeniably positive outlook for UK aviation. Passenger numbers shot up by over six per cent in 2017, while the number of actual flights increased by 37,000. An impressive 265m passengers passed through UK airports last year and there is every indication that 2018 will follow a similar trend.
Each flight that took off or landed at a UK airport also had more people on board. In the industry parlance, the 'load factor' now stands at 82 per cent with an average of 143 passengers on each flight.
European markets experienced big increases in passenger numbers with flights to Spanish destinations increasing by nine per cent, accounting for nearly a quarter of the growth in 2017. Passenger numbers to North African destinations rebounded following the easing of security concerns and travel restrictions, with Tunisia enjoying a 25 per cent increase in holiday-makers and Egypt a 10 per cent growth.
The boom in air traffic does seem to come at a price, however. Punctuality statistics show an increasing trend in flight delays over recent years, with the proportion of delays over one hour also slowly increasing. In 2017 over a quarter of all flights were delayed and there was no change to the average length of delay which remains at 15 minutes.
Results from our own consumer research shows that flight delays of up to two hours are, not surprisingly, cited as having a significant impact on passenger satisfaction. Over a third of passengers surveyed told us that delays cause them to question using an airport or airline in the future.
The challenge then for the aviation industry is to continue to grow without negatively impacting the passenger experience.