Wizz Air has the worst punctuality record of the busiest airlines operating from UK airports, an investigation has found.
The Hungarian carrier’s UK departures were an average of 23 minutes late in 2017, according to Press Association analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data.
The worst performers
Norwegian Air Shuttle has the second worst performance, followed by Vueling Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines and BMI Regional.
The ranking features the 44 airlines with at least 2,000 scheduled flights from UK airports last year.
Average delay figures take into account every flight that operated, including those that were on time. Cancelled services are excluded from the CAA data.
The full list
1. Scandinavian Airlines 7.4 minutes
2. Aer Lingus 9.0 minutes
3. Air France 10.0 minutes
4. Alitalia 10.4 minutes
5. Delta Airlines 10.6 minutes
6. Qatar Airways 11.1 minutes
7. Stobart Air 11.3 minutes
8. BA CityFlyer 11.4 minutes
9=. British Airways 11.5 minutes
9=. Finnair 11.5 minutes
11. Cathay Pacific Airways 11.7 minutes
12. United Airlines 11.8 minutes
13=. Lufthansa 12.1 minutes
13=. Iberia 12.1 minutes
15. Jet2.com 12.2 minutes
16. Swiss Airlines 12.7 minutes
17. American Airlines 13.0 minutes
18. Virgin Atlantic 13.3 minutes
19. Germanwings 13.7 minutes
20. Flybe 14.1 minutes
21. KLM 14.5 minutes
22. City Jet 15.2 minutes
23. Tui Airways 15.3 minutes
24=. Ryanair 15.6 minutes
24=. Blue Islands Limited 15.6 minutes
26. Etihad Airways 15.8 minutes
27. Brussels Airlines 16.1 minutes
28=. Emirates 16.2 minutes
28=. Loganair 16.2 minutes
30. Monarch Airlines (ceased trading in October 2017) 16.4 minutes
31. Air Canada 17.1 minutes
32. Blue Air Transport Aerian 17.2 minutes
33. EasyJet 18.2 minutes
34. Eastern Airways 18.6 minutes
35. Air Portugal 19.1 minutes
36=. Turkish Airlines 19.2 minutes
36=. Eurowings 19.2 minutes
38. Norwegian Air International 19.3 minutes
39. Aurigny Air Services 20.1 minutes
40. BMI Regional 21.0 minutes
41=. Thomas Cook Airlines 21.1 minutes
41=. Vueling Airlines 21.1 minutes
43. Norwegian Air Shuttle 21.7 minutes
44. Wizz Air 22.9 minutes
The best performers
Scandinavian Airlines is the most punctual, with aircraft typically taking off just seven minutes behind schedule.
Aer Lingus has the second best record, followed by Air France, Alitalia and Delta Airlines.
The average delay across all flights was 15 minutes.
Severe winter weather and strikes may be a factor
“A number of issues specific to the UK, including airport infrastructure, airspace congestion and slot restrictions contribute to a significantly worse on-time performance of our UK routes compared to the rest of our network,” said a spokesperson for Wizz Air.
They noted that disruption was caused by “particularly severe winter weather” last year and added that the airline is taking measures to improve its punctuality, such as basing eight aircraft in the UK to reduce its exposure to inbound delays.
Norwegian Air Shuttle’s UK flights mainly consist of short-haul services from London Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh. Its average delay of 22 minutes does not take into account the majority of Norwegian’s long-haul flights from UK airports, which are operated by a British subsidiary.
A Norwegian spokesman said frequent air traffic control (ATC) strikes across Europe and adverse weather “invariably impact punctuality” and are beyond the control of airlines.
He went on: “We do everything possible to ensure that flights operate to allow passengers to reach their destination as soon as possible.
“Norwegian is committed to keep improving punctuality, and where factors are within our direct control we have introduced new measures to continue delivering a smooth, efficient experience for our passengers.”
Allowing travellers to make an informed decision
The CAA said punctuality “clearly matters to airline passengers” and it publishes the performance of carriers to allow people to “make informed choices about which airline to fly with”.
Dale Keller, chief executive of airline association BAR UK, said delays are “extremely costly” to carriers.
He added that airlines are “fully engaged” with governments, ATC providers and airports to minimise the causes of disruption which are outside their own control.
Passengers on delayed flights from UK airports are entitled to assistance and compensation depending on the cause and length of the disruption.
Claiming compensation for delayed flights
When flights are delayed for more than two hours, airlines have to provide free access to phone calls or emails, meals and refreshments, as well as hotel accommodation if an overnight stay is required.
Passengers can also claim compensation when flights are delayed by more than three hours unless there are “extraordinary circumstances” such as severe weather or a security alert.
Payouts range from 250 euro (£223) to 600 euro (£535) depending on the length of the flight and how long it was delayed.
Editor of magazine Which? Travel, Rory Boland, advised delayed passengers to “make sure you make a claim for the compensation that you are entitled to”.
He added: “Airlines now need to do the right thing and introduce automatic compensation. Passengers should not have to jump through hoops to claim back the money they are owed.”