New figures from the UK Civil Aviation Authority have revealed some 32 per cent of scheduled flights were delayed in the final quarter of 2010.
This compares to just 24 per cent in the same period in 2009 at the ten airports monitored by the CAA.
Airlines were quick to point to appalling weather and resultant airport closures – notably at Heathrow during the festive season – but the CAA argues not all delays can be attributed to this cause.
Examining performance on days affected by bad weather shows that about a third of the reduction in on-time performance and about a quarter of the increase in average delay is due to weather-related disruption, said the CAA.
The remainder of the changes have therefore arisen due to other causes.
Commenting on the figures, Iain Osborne, CAA group director for regulatory policy, said: “During the final three months of last year, nearly a third of flights were more than 15 minutes late.
“The worst performers were charter flights from Edinburgh and Manchester, with scheduled flights from Heathrow and Luton also performing badly.
“While some of the fall in punctuality can be explained by the terrible weather in November and December, that doesn’t explain it all.
In the last quarter of last year, there were 309,000 scheduled flights and 14,000 charter flights at the ten airports monitored, drops of four and 14 per cent respectively, compared with the fourth quarter of 2009.