Wednesday, October 28, 2009

London Heathrow Tops European Airport Delays Report

Official statistics now in the public domain identify London Heathrow Airport as having the longest delays in Europe; passengers there regularly experiencing waits of 30 minutes prior to take off. The figures were provided in a report published by the Association of European Airlines, and highlighted how more than 30 per cent of Heathrow departures left over 15 minutes behind schedule. London Gatwick was another airport that the report showcased negatively; there, around 25 per cent of departures were delayed by 15 minutes or more. These two airports’ performances, viewed together, represent yet another dent to the standing of BAA, the airport operating group responsible for the day-to-day running of both.

In comparison to the 1st quarter of 2007, Heathrow’s results, gleaned from the period April-June, represented a three per cent drop. What is apparent is that, with the (well-publicised) delays at Security and Check In areas, passengers are subjected to yet more once on board their intended aircraft.

On average, calculated the Association of European Airlines, travellers could expect to wait 30.9 minutes; attributable factors including air traffic control, mechanical failure, and the late arrival of other flights. Generally speaking, with Heathrow leading the pack, the report also highlighted how, apart from a single day, the UK’s airports were saturated beyond capacity throughout April.

Airport International has viewed the report in question, with Heathrow atop a list of worst offenders. While Brussels Airport had the lowest percentage of late flights, at 15.5 per cent, passengers there have an average wait of 37.8 minutes.

On the 2nd September 2007, Heathrow’s North Runway was put out of operation for an hour and a half, due to an emergency touch-down made by an aircraft of Royal Brunei Airlines.

In response to the report, British Airways yesterday made a statement in which its performance was defended. As per a company spokesman: "Heathrow is the world's most congested two-runway airport and is currently handling up to 20 million more customers a year than it was originally designed for". He continued: "There is so little slack that if any minor incidents occur there is little opportunity to catch up with any delays. Over the period, one third of flights that arrived at Heathrow were behind schedule. When you have an airport that is running at 98.5 per cent of its runway capacity, delays to arrivals have a direct effect on departing flight times.

"It is no coincidence that one third of departing and one third of arriving flights were delayed over the period. The issue, therefore, is one of capacity."

Source – Airport International’s London Reporter

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