Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

UK second worst country in Europe for flight delays and cancellations

Only Germany had more disruptions in 2018

Helen Coffey
Thursday 25 October 2018 18:19 BST
Flight arrivals board at Heathrow Airport
Flight arrivals board at Heathrow Airport (Getty)

The UK experienced the second highest number of flight delays and disruptions of any country in Europe this year, according to new research.

It was second only to Germany, with UK flight cancellations up 86 per cent compared to 2017.

Analysis of global flight data by flight compensation company Airhelp found that more than 175,000 UK flights have been delayed or cancelled so far in 2018 – 26,000 more than the previous year.

Of a total of 692,800 UK flights this year, 164,690 have been delayed by 15 minutes or more, while a further 10,640 have been cancelled; more than 25 per cent of flights have been disrupted in total.

Germany was even more badly affected, with 167,420 delays and 14,040 cancellations this year. Out of 630,000 flights, some 28.8 per cent were disrupted.

France, Spain and Italy were third, fourth and fifth worst affected respectively in terms of numbers of disrupted flights. Portugal, however, had the highest percentage of flights that have been delayed or cancelled – more than one in three of the 143,000 flights that took off in 2018.

“2018 has seen the worst flight disruption across Europe in history,” said Paloma Salmeron, air passenger rights expert at AirHelp.

“Millions of travellers have suffered severe delays or cancellations by airlines, but nowhere more so than in Germany and the UK. Airline staff strikes, lack of pilots and bad weather have all contributed to a year of air travel misery and chaos for passengers.”

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

She added: “The current Brexit aviation deal limbo combined with a predicted increase in European flights to 12.4 million by 2024 is likely to cause even more havoc in European airspace.

“Whichever way the law turns in the UK and EU negotiations, we urge airlines to work tirelessly to help their passengers throughout the flight disruption.”

EU Law stipulates that if your flight has been cancelled or delayed you have the right to compensation.

Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to up to €600 (£536) in compensation when their flight lands at their destination more than three hours late.

The amount starts from €250 (£223) for flights of less than 1,500km long which are delayed by at least three hours, with the maximum payout being €600 (£536) for flights of more than 3,500km between an EU and non-EU airport, delayed by at least four hours.

However, airlines do not have to pay out if the delay or cancellation is due to “extraordinary circumstances”, such as bad weather or crew strikes.

Airlines must also provide meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation while passengers await a rearranged flight.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in