Thursday 3 January 2019 4:52 pm

Delays at UK’s busiest airports cost business passengers £500m last year, new data reveals

Reporter at City A.M. covering City politics, transport and law. Get in touch:

Reporter at City A.M. covering City politics, transport and law. Get in touch:

UK business passengers lost more than half a million days to delays at Britain's 10 busiest airports last year, at a cost of around more than £500m to their pockets.

When combined with delays to leisure passengers the figure rise to 2.5m days lost, costing travellers £1bn.

Data from air travel intelligence company OAG shows that delays at Heathrow and Gatwick, two of Europe’s busiest airports, cost business passengers more than £350m. When added to the days leisure passengers lost, the total cost reaches over £500m.

Delays are measured when flights land or take off after 15 minutes of the scheduled time. The OAG’s punctuality league, released today, covers the top 250 airlines by available seat kilometres and global airports with a minimum of 2.5m departing seats.

OAG arrived at the figures by combining the total hours of delays passengers experienced at airports with the value they attributed to their lost time. For leisure passengers, each hour was valued at £6.60; for business passengers it was £49.20 each hour.

Last month Gatwick was plunged into chaos when it was forced to close its runway following sightings of drone activity, while the aviation industry generally suffered from disruption caused by air traffic control strikes.

Budget airline Ryanair struggled to keep a grip on strikes by pilots and cabin crew over pay and working conditions, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

OAG chief executive Phil Callow said: “Flight punctuality is complex. Delays can be outside the control of airlines and airports, dependent on stakeholders, regulatory bodies, infrastructure constraints, weather and the complete unexpected. Drones causing the disruption at Gatwick ahead of Christmas would be a good example.

“Although air travel is a vibrant growing sector, punctuality is an increasing challenge with serious knock on effects for the operational costs of airlines and airports. It’s been a turbulent time this year with the effect of air traffic control strikes felt across Europe. This has been reflected in on-time performance for those airlines and airports affected.”