UK airports with the highest rates of flight delays

UK Airports with the Highest Rates of Flight Delays The aviation industry in the United Kingdom is one of the crucial elements of intrastate and international travel networks.

It has a significant impact on the development of the country’s economy due to the increased connectivity of different parts of the country along with the profound networks with other European and world states.

The UK airport network serves millions of passengers every year. This facilitates the growth of tourism, trade, and various business relations throughout the world. However, recently flight delays have deteriorated the adequate functioning of airlines, causing problems for both passengers and airport authorities.

Understanding Flight Delays

Often, flight delays are unpredictable, and their duration may be lasting. The most common reasons for delays are the following:

● The weather. Even when it seems good, we cannot see what is happening at height.

● Technical malfunctions of the board.

● Controllers monitor the departures and landings of other planes and determine when your plane’s turn is.

● The receiving airport load with flights.

● Visibility. When it’s less than 400 m, the plane will not take off or land.

● Cargo. It also needs to be loaded on board and unloaded.

● Refuelling.

● Waiting for late passengers.

Because of flight delays, passengers may miss important meetings and events, airports are overloaded with passengers, and airlines experience chaos in their schedules and negative impact on their reputation.


Before the provision of an analysis, it’s necessary to understand which airports experience delays more frequently and clarify the scope of the problem in general. We will select airports for analysis based on passenger traffic volumes, geographic distribution, and significance. Reputable sources like the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), aviation industry databases, and airport authorities will provide a background for the analysis.

Analysis of UK Airports with the Highest Rates of Flight Delays

According to The Telegraph's analysis, Gatwick was the worst airport in the UK for delays. On average, flights were 27 minutes behind the schedule in 2023. Luton had the second poorest record as per delay flight and showed 23 minutes delay. Manchester occupied the third place in the worst list of airports, with an average time of 22 minutes delays. The statistical data of the five worst airports is the following:

Average Time of Delay (as of 2023)

Gatwick 27 minutes

Luton 23 minutes

Manchester 22 minutes

Edinburgh 21 minutes

Birmingham 21 minutes

The best performance was demonstrated by Belfast City Airport. Their typical delay was 12.5 minutes. The same result was demonstrated by Gatwick in 2021. Hence, the situation at this airport is worth it. Although, the average delay for all airports in 2023 was 20 minutes and 42 seconds. While in 2022, the result was 23 minutes and 12 seconds. This was explained by the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A worsening situation with Gatwick Airport was caused by several factors:

● The bulk of flight cancellations were caused by poor weather conditions.

● Limitations in airspace throughout Europe.

● Gatwick experienced an air traffic control staff shortage in 2023.

When flights are delayed significantly, airlines and airports take the initiative to provide assistance with the inclusion of refreshments, provision of accommodation, and up-to-date information. Additionally, passengers may count on flight delay compensation in the UK of up to £520 if the delay is significant. The length of the delay and flight distance determine the compensation.

Comparative Analysis

The UK is one of the most loaded states for flights. Although it has airports with significant time delays (such as Gatwick), other states have poor flight delays. Here is a short list of countries and busy airports with significant delays.

Country Airports with a percentage of delays

Canada Toronto Pearson International Airport (52%) Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (48%) Vancouver International Airport (38%)

USA Chicago Midway International Airport (38%) Washington International Airport (33%) Orlando International Airport (32%)

Germany Frankfurt International Airport (44%) Munich International Airport (40%)

Portugal Humberto Delgado Airport (43%)

France Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (41%)

United Kingdom London Gatwick Airport (42%) Manchester Airport (39%)

The airports that have the lowest flight delays implement their strategies for managing flights:

● More effective planning and scheduling;

● Use of reserve crews and planes;

● Implementation of IT and AI technologies to predict and prevent delays;

● Comprehensive training of personnel to act in critical moments;

● Improving runway capacity;

● Motivating aircraft to schedule flights in off-peak time.

Passenger Experience and Feedback

Various studies show that passengers do not like delays because they disrupt their plans. However, a poll conducted among British Airways passengers demonstrated that when passengers are properly informed about delays, they perceive them calmly. They are not irritated by delays when they expect them. However, in many cases, passengers are dissatisfied with delays, and their attitude toward the airline may deteriorate. As a result, they may choose the available alternative airlines and airports in the future.

Initiatives and Improvements

Many new initiatives are already being implemented to improve delays. For example, Heathrow Airport offered to enlarge the airport by introducing a third runway, which will increase its capacity. As a result, the delays will decrease. In their turn, London Gatwick Airport introduced management based on demand. According to the report, airlines will be charged higher landing fees during overloaded hours. This will motivate them to reschedule flights to less busy times. Additionally, the improvement in weather forecasting will improve the prediction of possible delays with the subsequent rescheduling of flights.


Flight delays are a significant problem for the UK aircraft industry, and a comprehensive approach is required since they affect the experience of passengers, airlines, and airports. Proper work with the prediction of delays and handling of cases that have already happened will decrease the general time of delays and improve future practices. As a result, airports with a lower number of passengers may improve their image in the eyes of potential clientele.