Summer holiday flight cancellations at UK airports increase by a quarter

16 August 2016
New analysis by travel insurance specialist Columbus Direct, a Collinson company, reveals summer holiday flight cancellations, in the period July to September, from UK departure airports increased by 24% between 2014 and 2015.  It is not just flight cancellations that have increased. Extensive delays, those of two hours or more, at UK airports across the peak summer holiday period also increased by 10%.

If holidaymakers jetting off this summer witness a repeat of the cancellations and delays of last year they should be prepared to be extremely patient and experience long waits. Travellers spent a combined 16,067 hours waiting for delayed flights to depart UK airports last summer, with 1,352 flights delayed by three hours or more. Those planning to jet away on their vacations suffered significant disruption, as 1,297 flights scheduled to depart from UK airports were cancelled. 

London Gatwick and London Heathrow witnessed the largest volume of passenger disruption, with the greatest number of delayed and cancelled flights. London Gatwick saw 3056 flights delayed by over an hour in the peak summer season, eight per cent of all departures.  London Heathrow saw 2663 flights delayed by at least an hour over the same period (4.5%).  These airports do however witness by far and away the largest number of UK holidaymakers seeking to jet away each summer. 

Seventeen UK airports had over 100 flights delayed by at least an hour, including the likes of Aberdeen, Newcastle, Bristol and Nottingham. London Heathrow saw the far greatest number of flights cancelled of all UK airports, with 383 scheduled flights not taking off at all.  London City saw 121 flights cancelled during the peak summer holiday period and Manchester saw 84 flights grounded.    

When it comes to airlines with the lowest levels of flight disruptions, Lufthansa has come out on top with only 0.2% of its 3,765 UK flights experiencing a delay of more than two hours.  This was closely followed by SAS (0.3%), Air France (0.4%) and Swiss (0.5%) airlines who all encountered minimal flight delays during 2015. Full data on UK flight delays and cancellations from airports and airlines can be found here

Table 1: % of flights delayed by 2+ hours by Airlines departing from UK airports

 Rank Airline Delayed 2+ hours
 1  Lutfhansa 0.2%
 2 SAS  0.3%
 3 Air France  0.4%
 4  SWISS 0.5%
 5  KLM 0.5%
 6  Emirates 0.6%
 7 Ryanair  0.6%
 8 Aer Lingus  0.9%
 9 Monarch Airlines  0.9%
 10 Jet2  1.0%

Source: Columbus Direct's analysis of Flightstats data (only airlines with more than 1500 flights scheduled between July and Sept 2015 were analysed.)

Alison Wild, Head of Marketing at Columbus Direct, said: "Delayed and cancelled flights are especially distressing for passengers looking forward to a relaxing summer break abroad.  Passengers are spending precious holiday time worrying about missing connecting flights or whether they will be able to jet out at all.  Buying food and drink while waiting around can add a lot to the cost of a holiday and for parents trying to entertain children it can be very difficult in an airport. To help reduce passenger stress and ensure they can relax and start their holiday with confidence, Columbus Direct offers its customers complementary airport lounge access for announced flight delays of an hour instead of the usual two hours in August."

Columbus Direct recognises the stress flight delays can cause and so offers airport lounge access for travel insurance policyholders at over 500 lounges worldwide.  Policyholders delayed by two hours or more - for August the threshold has been reduced to just one hour - can access airport lounges along with up to four of their fellow travellers and take advantage of facilities such as Wi-Fi, food and drink and relaxing comfortable surroundings. 

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