Consumer association Which? analysed flight delay statistics for the last five years and found that 6.2% of all incoming and outgoing flights were delayed by more than an hour last year, up from 4% in 2014.
Delays have worsened particularly for low-cost carriers, though Which? notes that delays are often out of the control of the airlines themselves.
Aircraft movements in the UK have increased from just over 1.5million in 2014 to 2.25m in 2018.
“UK airspace has failed to keep pace with this surge in traffic,” says Which?. “It hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1950s, and the CAA acknowledges that this is a reason for increased delays.”
The CAA has committed to modernising UK airspace but the first phase won’t be complete until 2025.
“Delays could get worse before they get better,” warns Which?.
Thomas Cook was the worst overall performer in 2018. More than 11% of its flights touched down 60 minutes or more after scheduled, while easyJet (8.7%), Tui (8.1%) and Ryanair (7.8%) were the next most delayed airlines.
Notably, British Airways’ performance has improved over the five-year period, with the figure for delays of an hour or more dropping from 4.7% to 4.5%.
The survey also identified the most delayed routes of 2018. The top ten were all predominantly leisure destinations, with seven of them operated by Ryanair.