The worst airports for flight delays in the UK - as Birmingham named worst for second year in a row

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Birmingham Airport has promised customers "this summer can expect changes" after it was revealed as the worst UK airport for delays

Birmingham airport was the worst in the UK for flight delays for a second year in a row, an investigation has found.

Departures from the West Midlands airport were half an hour behind schedule on average in 2022, according to analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data by the PA news agency. That was more than twice as long as the previous year, when it was also ranked last for punctuality. The airport said it is “running smoothly” this year.

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Doncaster Sheffield – which closed in November – and Manchester airports had the joint second poorest punctuality records in 2022, with an average delay of 29 minutes. They were followed by Luton (28 minutes), Gatwick (27 minutes) and Bristol (26 minutes) airports.

East Midlands airport had the best performance, with an average delay of just 13 minutes. The average across all airports was 23 minutes.

How was the analysis made?

The analysis took into account all scheduled and chartered departures. Cancelled flights were not included. When flights are significantly delayed, airlines are required under consumer laws to provide passengers with assistance, which can include refreshments, a means of communication and accommodation if required.

If the cause of disruption is under an airline’s control, passengers are also due compensation of up to £520 depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight. May and June were the worst months for flight reliability in 2022 as the aviation sector failed to recruit and train enough staff to cope with a surge in demand for holidays.

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The worst airports for flight delays

  • 1. Birmingham (30 minutes)
  • =2. Manchester (29 minutes)
  • =2. Doncaster Sheffield (29 minutes)
  • 4. Luton (28 minutes)
  • 5. Gatwick (27 minutes)
  • 6. Bristol (26 minutes)
  • =7. Cardiff (24 minutes)
  • =7. Edinburgh (24 minutes)
  • 9. Heathrow (22 minutes)
  • =10. Newcastle (21 minutes)
  • =10. Isle of Man (21 minutes)
  • =10. Aberdeen (21 minutes)
  • =13. Leeds Bradford (20 minutes)
  • =13. Southend (20 minutes)
  • =15. Glasgow (19 minutes)
  • =15. Stansted (19 minutes)
  • =15. Southampton (19 minutes)
  • =15. Bournemouth (19 minutes)
  • =19. London City (17 minutes)
  • =19. Jersey (17 minutes)
  • 21. Belfast International (16 minutes)
  • =22. Liverpool John Lennon (15 minutes)
  • =22. Belfast City (15 minutes)
  • =24. Exeter (14 minutes)
  • =24. Teesside (14 minutes)
  • 26. East Midlands (13 minutes)

What has Birmingham Airport said in response?

Some 10.3 million passengers travelled through Birmingham airport last year, making it the seventh busiest in the UK. In addition to flight delays, many departing passengers were forced to spend several hours in long queues for check-in and security. Around 50 airlines operate at the airport, such as Ryanair,, Tui Airways, Air France and Emirates.

A Birmingham airport spokesman said: “The start of 2022 was devastated by Covid. After travel restrictions were lifted, the aviation industry fought hard to recover. This year, the first since 2020 not impacted by Covid, our airport is running smoothly with customers set to equal or exceed pre-pandemic numbers.

“Customers using Birmingham airport this summer can expect changes to walking routes as we build our £40 million new security hall, set to be ready for June 2024.”

CAA: 'too many passengers faced disappointing delays'

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: “Your choice of airport shouldn’t make or break your trip, but for too many travellers last year that was sadly their experience.

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“A repeat of last year’s chaos cannot be allowed to stand again, and airports and airlines must ensure they’re working together to ensure they can deliver their summer schedules as promised, while the government must urgently grant the CAA the powers it needs to hold the industry to account.

“With at least some level of disruption sadly probable as we head into another busy travel season, airports’ delay records are something some travellers may well want to take into consideration, even if that involves travelling slightly further from home.”

CAA head of consumer Anna Bowles added: “Our data tells us that too many passengers faced disappointing levels of delays across UK airports last year. It is important consumers experience a high-quality service from both airlines and airports this year. We expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are disrupted.”

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