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The UK Civil Aviation Authority has published aviation statistics for the first quarter of 2022. Overall, 31.4 million passengers flew in and out of the UK between January and March this year on 292,764 flights (compared to 30.9 million on 315,202 flights in the previous quarter). This represents a 42% fall in passengers compared to the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

The emergence of the Omicron Covid variant before Christmas led to many flight cancellations and some key European markets imposing bans on UK travellers in this period, resulting in a slow start to the year. However, travel restrictions were steadily eased from mid-February leading to increased consumer confidence, so much so that the number of passengers passing through UK airports in Q1 2022 was higher than the previous period despite the total number of flights falling.

The total cargo – by weight - transported on all services was down 11% compared to the equivalent quarter in 2019, with 606,375 tonnes of goods carried into and out of the UK. Flights dedicated to only carrying cargo continued their strong performance since the beginning of the pandemic, carrying 50% more than 2019.

The average flight delay increased to 12 minutes per flight (up from 10 minutes in Q4 2021), whilst 79% of flights were determined to have left “on-time”.

With the further easing of travel restrictions across key destinations and both the Easter and May half term breaks appearing in Q2 2022, it is expected that passengers and flights will continue their recent upward trajectory.