Birmingham is worst UK airport for delays

Average delay at airport in 2022 was 30 minutes, study shows

People queue at Birmingham Airport. EPA
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As the great British summer getaway approaches, Birmingham airport has been revealed to be the worst for delays for the second year in a row.

The average delay at the city's airport was 30 minutes in 2022, according to PA News, which used official figures from the Civil Aviation Authority.

That was twice as long as the previous year.

In joint second place and only a minute better off than Birmingham were Doncaster Sheffield and Manchester airports, with an average delay of 29 minutes each last year. Doncaster Sheffield closed in November.

At 28 minutes of average delays, Luton ranked fourth worst for punctuality, followed by London's Gatwick airport at 27 minutes and Bristol at 26 minutes.

Across all the UK's airports, the average delay was 23 minutes, with East Midlands putting in the best punctuality figures, with an average delay of 13 minutes.

Queues of thousands

May and June were the worst months for delays at the UK's airports last year, as the sector recovered from the Covid pandemic but failed to take on and train enough staff quick enough to deal with the sudden surge in demand for overseas holidays.

As well as the flight delays, thousands of departing passengers had to queue for hours at UK airports in May and June last year, waiting to check in and pass through security.

A total of 10.3 million passengers passed through Birmingham airport last year, making it the UK's seventh busiest airport.

“The start of 2022 was devastated by Covid,” said an airport representative.

“After travel restrictions were lifted, the aviation industry fought hard to recover.

“This year, the first since 2020 not impacted by Covid, our airport is running smoothly, with customers set to equal or exceed pre-pandemic numbers.

“Customers using Birmingham airport this summer can expect changes to walking routes as we build our £40 million new security hall, set to be ready for June 2024.”

About 50 airlines use Birmingham airport, including Ryanair, Jet2, Tui, Air France and Emirates.

“Your choice of airport shouldn't make or break your trip, but for too many travellers last year that was sadly their experience,” said Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel.

“A repeat of last year's chaos cannot be allowed to stand again, and airports and airlines must ensure they're working together to ensure they can deliver their summer schedules as promised, while the government must urgently grant the CAA the powers it needs to hold the industry to account.

“With at least some level of disruption sadly probable as we head into another busy travel season, airports' delay records are something some travellers may well want to take into consideration, even if that involves travelling slightly further from home.”

With average delays of 22 minutes, London's Heathrow was the ninth worst airport in the survey.

“Our data tells us that too many passengers faced disappointing levels of delays across UK airports last year,” said Anna Bowles of the CAA.

“It is important consumers experience a high-quality service from both airlines and airports this year.

“We expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are disrupted.”

By law, airlines must provide passengers with assistance if their flights are significantly delayed. This can mean anything from a sandwich to overnight accommodation.

If the cause of the delay is the fault of the airline, passengers can be in line for up to £520 in compensation, depending on how long they were kept waiting and how far the flight was going.

Updated: May 09, 2023, 11:13 AM