Punctuality of flights at Britain’s largest airports has improved over the past year, according to latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
In the last quarter of 2008, 75 percent of flights at London’s five airports were on time - up by 10 percent on last year. At Heathrow 73 per cent of flights were on time (up by 13 per cent) during the same period.
London City showed the biggest improvement with 74 per cent of flights arriving or departing within 15 minutes of schedule - up by 18 per cent.
Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports’ scheduled on-time performance increased by nine, four and five percent respectively.
Meanwhile, the length of delays also improved. For example, at Heathrow, the average delay fell by seven minutes to 14 minutes.
However analysts suggest that the improvements are largely down to the fall in the number of passengers and flights due to the downturn, which as eased the pressure on airports, rather than an overall improvement in efficiency.
The number of flights fell by six percent in the last quarter of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007. The number of air passengers in the UK had fallen for the first time in 17 years.
The proportion of on-time charter flights improved by two percent in the last quarter of 2008 to 68 percent, compared with 66 percent in 2007. The average delay across all charter flights monitored fell to 24 minutes compared to 26 minutes in 2007.
Gatwick, the airport with the biggest charter operation, saw its average delay increase by two minutes to 31 minutes. However, its on-time performance improved to 62 per cent in the latest quarter from 60 per cent a year ago.
The statistics relate to departures and arrivals at CAA-operated airports - Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, London City, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle and Stansted.