A third of flights to and from UK airports were at least 15 minutes late last year

This figure has risen by 17 percent since 2021 and 2020  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
This figure has risen by 17 percent since 2021 and 2020 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

One in three flights travelling to and from UK airports were at least 15 minutes late last year, according to new statistics.

Data released by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that 37 per cent of flights in and out of UK airports were at least 15 minutes late in 2022.

That figure has risen by 17 per cent since 2021 and 2020, and by 25 per cent compared to data recorded in 2019.

The overall average plane delay experienced by passengers last year was 22 minutes. This delay is a 60 per cent increase on waits seen in 2019.

When it came to flight cancellations, 2 per cent was the average figure recorded throughout 2022.

Glasgow had the highest number of cancelled flights with a recorded figure of 2.5 per cent, while London Heathrow had 1.7 per cent.

May and June were the worst months for flight cancellations overall, with staff shortages and increased post-pandemic holiday demand combining to cause a knock-on effect.

Director of policy and advocacy at consumer group Which?, Rocio Concha, said: “These dreadful performance figures will be unsurprising to anyone who endured the widespread chaos at UK airports last year.

“Which? has received hundreds of testimonies from travellers left high and dry by airlines when their flights were cancelled or delayed, from people abandoned in airports to seek emergency accommodation and alternative flights home, to those still chasing compensation months later.”

However, there was some positive news for UK aviation, with figures increasing to 75 per cent of the passenger numbers seen in 2019 (the last full year before the pandemic).

Some 224 million people travelled to and from UK airports during 2022, a three-fold increase on the numbers recorded in 2021.

CAA head of consumers Anna Bowles said this boost to air travel numbers had been eclipsed by the cancellations and delays, however.

“More than three times as many people flew into and from UK airports last year compared with 2021, demonstrating a clear wish by consumers to return to travel as Covid restrictions were lifted, and giving industry a well-needed boost after a difficult few years,” Ms Bowles said.

“That bounce back in passenger numbers was at times overshadowed by the challenges that the aviation sector faced in the early summer of 2022, which saw an unacceptable level of flight cancellations and delays.”

Which? is now asking the Transport Secretary to “act without delay” and “give the Civil Aviation Authority the powers it needs to fine airlines when they break the law and fail in their responsibility to passengers.”