Flight punctuality slumps as more trains arrive on time

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The Independent Online

The punctuality of flights at Britain's 10 major airports has slumped at a time when an increasing number of long-distance trains are arriving on time.

Charter air services run by tour operators came out worst, with the average delay increasing from 20 minutes in the first quarter of 2004 to 26 minutes in 2005. Planes are regarded as "on time" if they are no more than 15 minutes late on the stand.

Holidaymakers using London airports suffered more than those in regional airports, with 36 per cent of flights arriving or departing late compared with 27 per cent the year before.

The performance of scheduled services, where there are regular "slots" for aircraft, was better, but was still deteriorating at all airports except Stansted. On average, 25 per cent of services were late, compared with 22 per cent last year. The average delay rose from 12 to 13 minutes.

Among the top 75 scheduled and charter destinations, more than 35 per cent of flights to Nice, Athens, Larnaca, Rome (Fuimicino), Venice, Toronto and New York JFK were late.

Of the scheduled destinations, Venice, New York JFK and Toronto had the longest average delays of 20 minutes or more. Of the three charter destinations in the top 75, Palma De Mallorca was the worst, with 32 per cent of planes arriving at or departing late from UK airports.

Passengers using Eurostar trains find services are more reliable than those using comparable flights. Some 88 per cent of Eurostar trains on the London-Paris route arrive and depart on time - 15 minutes late or less - compared with a year ago, when the figure was 83 per cent. Just 68 per cent of flights by British carriers to Paris were punctual, compared with 73 per cent last year, Civil Aviation Authority figures show.

In August, 86.5 per cent of Virgin trains on the London-Manchester route arrived within 10 minutes of their scheduled time. Some 91.3 per cent of the company's trains to Manchester, Preston and Liverpool arrived 15 minutes late or less.

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