• On-time performance for all scheduled passenger flights at the 10 monitored UK airports fell in 2014 by one percentage point to 79 per cent.
  • Highest performing airport was London City with 88 per cent and lowest was Gatwick Airport with 74 per cent.
  • CAA's consumer-focused data and infographic (PDF) helps passengers make more informed choices about where to fly to and from.

The punctuality of scheduled passenger flights arriving and departing at 10 of the UK's biggest airports has dipped in the last 12 months to 79 per cent.

New figures released by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show that on-time performance, which is a flight early or up to and including 15 minutes late, has dropped by one percentage point in the last year.

Across all scheduled passenger flights the average delay* in 2014 was 12 minutes, which is the same as 2013.

The news comes as latest CAA figures show the number of passengers using UK airports increased to 238m in 2014, just short of the 2007 peak.

Of the 10 airports, which the CAA monitors**, London City has the highest punctuality with 88 per cent of flights on-time and also had the shortest average delay of seven minutes. Gatwick Airport had the lowest number of flights on-time with 74 per cent and also had the longest average delay of 15 minutes.

Against 2013 three airports, Newcastle, Manchester and Heathrow, saw improvements in on-time performance. The other seven airports saw punctuality performance drop, with the biggest fall being at Luton, where the decline was five percentage points.

In 2014 1.4 million scheduled passenger flights at the 10 airports were monitored for punctuality and this represents a three per cent increase, when compared with 2013.

Iain Osborne, Group Director for Regulatory Policy at the CAA, said: “Arriving on-time matters to passengers and our work helps ensure consumers have the best data and information to make better and more informed choices.

“In the last five years punctuality has been improving and it is therefore disappointing to see a small dip in performance in the last year.

“Notwithstanding this, the industry has had to deal with some unseasonably poor weather and a number of overseas air traffic control strikes, both beyond their control.

“With this in mind we expect the industry to continue to build on the overall positive trajectory and to do all they can to improve punctuality performance further.”

Chartered flights

In 2014, 69,000 chartered passenger flights at the 10 airports were monitored for punctuality. The overall on-time performance for charter passenger flights was 73 per cent, which is a decrease of four percentage points from 2013. The average delay for chartered passenger flights also deteriorated increasing from 17 minutes in 2013 to 18 minutes in 2014.

Destinations with most flights

Of the scheduled international destinations with the most flights in 2014 (covering routes with over 2,000 flights per year), flights to and from Billund, Denmark, recorded the highest on-time performance of 89 per cent and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen the lowest with 56 per cent. Bangkok had the longest average delay at 27 minutes with Billund achieving the lowest average delay of six minutes.

Quarter four comparison***

In the final quarter of 2014, October to December, 78 per cent of scheduled flights were on-time, two percentage points lower than during the last quarter of 2013.

The average delay across all scheduled flights monitored was 12 minutes, the same as in the last quarter of both 2013 and 2012. However charter flights on-time performance decreased by four percentage points, from 77 per cent in the final quarter of 2013 to 73 per cent in 2014. The average delay increased by three minutes, from 14 minutes to 17 minutes.

Among the 75 scheduled international destinations with the most flights in the fourth quarter of 2014 (covering routes with between 950 and 15,000 flights in the quarter), flights to and from Billund, Denmark, recorded the highest on-time performance of 87% and Delhi the lowest (58%), and also the longest average delay at 30 minutes. Flights to and from Rotterdam achieved the lowest average delay of seven minutes.

* Please see point four, Notes to Editors

**From October 2014, the CAA has been monitoring a further 14 UK airports and these will be included in our data and analysis moving forward.

***Comparing Q4 2013 with Q4 2014. 

Media Enquiries

For further media information contact the CAA Press Office on 00 44 (0)207 453 6030 or press.office@caa.co.uk. You can also follow the CAA on Twitter @UK_CAA

Tables containing more information are below:

Notes to Editors 

  1. 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.
  2. On-time performance and delay are 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 (this taxi time is estimated using historic data - see note 12).
  3. An 'on-time' flight is defined as departing or arriving at a UK airport either early or up to and including 15 minutes late.
  4. Average delay is the total minutes of delay recorded by all flights (with early arriving flights counted as zero delay) divided by the total number of flights monitored.
  5. 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. 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.
  6. The statistics 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.
  7. The characteristics of scheduled and charter modes are different. For example, scheduled and charter flights tend to operate to different destinations at different times of the day and week. Because of this and the exclusion of cancellations from the data, simplistic comparisons between the two modes should be avoided. These tables are not intended and should not be treated as a direct comparison between scheduled and charter services.
  8. Actual times of operation are derived from the flight by flight air transport movement returns made by airports to the CAA, which are compared with planned arrival and departure times supplied by Airport Co-ordination Ltd. The data supplied by Airports Co-ordination Ltd includes changes made up to 30 minutes before operation.
  9. 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.
  10. The status of “experimental” is assigned to new data series which are not yet established. In this instance, it reflects the relative lack of historical comparative data and the estimation required for the taxi-time adjustment. In particular, users should recognise that greater variability in traffic volumes over time may increase the uncertainty around estimates made.
  11. All-cargo services and air taxi services are excluded from the analysis.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Punctuality data are published monthly and annually in summary and in full on the CAA Punctuality subsite. 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.