Airline complaints at record high

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Airline passengers made a record number of complaints last year, the Air Transport Users Council said yesterday. Not surprisingly, delays were the prime grievance in 1996-97, and total complaints have now risen threefold in 10 years.

Complaints about baggage-handling and in-flight service were prominent in the 1,000-plus complaints, of which nearly 60 per cent were against foreign airlines and the remainder against UK carriers.

"The scope for air traffic control improvements in the short term has been largely exhausted and, with continuing strong traffic growth, delays seem set to increase," said the council's chairman Ian Hamer.

He added that he hoped the regular publication by the Council of airline delay performance tables - the first of which came out in April 1997 - would mean carriers would "address their problems".