New figures have revealed which UK airports were hit hardest by the disruption over the Easter break when holidaymakers faced mass delays and cancellations.
April saw flight punctuality fall to its lowest levels so far this year at the vast majority of large UK airports, analysis data from the Civil Aviation Authority shows.
Newcastle Airport has fared better than most across the country with new data revealing it had above-average polling for on-time flights.
A total of 71% of all flights jetting off from the North East airport were said to be on time, leaving 29% delayed.
Just 0.4% of flights from the airport were cancelled, with 15 out of a total of 2519 flights recorded in April of this year failing to take off at all.
706 flights from Newcastle Airport were reported as delayed, faring far better than the likes of Heathrow, which saw nearly 10,000 flights delayed.
Heathrow’s 9,917 delayed flights marked the most delays of all airports in the country, but Birmingham Airport led the way with 40.6% of its flights delayed.
Officials count a flight as delayed if it is more than 15 minutes late.
On Tuesday (June 21), the Government set out plans which aim to prevent last-minute flight cancellations during the summer peak.
The regulations will allow a one-off ‘amnesty’ on airport slots rules, allowing airlines to deliver a more realistic summer schedule based on their staffing levels. The Department for Transport said this was being provided as an exceptional measure while the aviation industry recruits the necessary workers.
Flight slots are used to manage capacity at the busiest airports, giving an airline permission to use the runway, terminal and gates at an airport on a specific date and time.
Airlines must use slots a certain amount of times each season in order to keep them. However, many parts of the sector have been unable to recruit enough staff in time to fly the number of flights they have planned for, leading to flights being cancelled at short notice.
Subject to approval by Parliament, the Government will now give airlines a short window to temporarily hand back slots for the rest of the summer season that they are not confident they will be able to operate. Ministers said this would help passengers find alternative arrangements ahead of time, rather than face the kind of last-minute cancellations seen over the Easter and half-term holidays.
Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “This is a hugely challenging time for our recovering aviation industry, but we cannot have a situation where passengers arrive at the airport just to have their flight cancelled or face long delays.”
Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Providing passengers with certainty this summer is vital and this intervention will help to relieve the pressures we see being experienced by the aviation industry and its customers. Short-term measures are welcomed, but a continued focus on the unplanned and inevitable operational challenges is crucial for consumer confidence this summer.”
Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said: “This is a welcome step that will help build greater resilience into operations this summer, coming on top of measures already taken by the sector. We will continue to work with ministers and the whole aviation ecosystem to ensure the summer peak runs as smoothly as possible for our passengers.”