Revealed: Worst UK airports for delays with two in London making top 10

The UK airports with the longest average delays has been revealed (Artturi Jalli/Unsplash)
The UK airports with the longest average delays has been revealed (Artturi Jalli/Unsplash)

The worst airports in the UK for delays have been revealed–and two London airports are in the top 10.

But Birmingham airport came out on top with the longest delays, according to an analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data by the PA news agency.

The UK airports were ranked based on their flight punctuality in 2021 (so this summer’s delays and cancellations were not taken into consideration), and Birmingham was found to be the worst, followed by Southampton, Heathrow, Exeter, and Aberdeen.

The airports with the shortest average delays were Southend, Belfast International, Teesside International, Belfast City, and Gatwick.

Worst airport in the UKs for delays (based on the longest average delay)

  1. Birmingham (12 minutes and 24 seconds)

  2. Southampton (12 minutes)

  3. Heathrow (11 minutes and 48 seconds)

  4. Exeter (11 minutes and 12 seconds)

  5. Aberdeen (10 minutes and 36 seconds)

  6. Doncaster Sheffield (10 minutes and 18 seconds)

  7. Luton (nine minutes and 42 seconds)

  8. Manchester (nine minutes and 30 seconds)

  9. Glasgow (eight minutes and 30 seconds)

  10. Leeds Bradford (seven minutes and 42 seconds)

  11. Newcastle (seven minutes and 24 seconds)

  12. Bournemouth (seven minutes and 18 seconds)

  13. Edinburgh (seven minutes and 12 seconds)

  14. Liverpool (John Lennon) (seven minutes and six seconds)

  15. Cardiff (six minutes and 48 seconds)

  16. London City (six minutes and 12 seconds)

  17. Bristol (six minutes and six seconds)

  18. Stansted (six minutes)

  19. East Midlands International (six minutes)

  20. Gatwick (five minutes and 54 seconds)

  21. Belfast City (George Best) (four minutes and 54 seconds)

  22. Teesside International (four minutes and 48 seconds)

  23. Belfast International (four minutes and 30 seconds)

  24. Southend (two minutes and 48 seconds)

Although Birmingham was ranked the worst, the UK’s seventh busiest airport stressed that many delayed departures were able to make up time in the air because the number of flights were reduced amid the pandemic.

A spokesman said: “Last year was a dark time for aviation when Birmingham Airport was reduced to just 25% of normal resource and capacity due to Covid.

“Due to the unique operating environment caused by massive air traffic reductions, the usual pressures did not exist, so flights taking off late were able to catch up en route.”

Birmingham airport serves more than 100 short-haul routes, as well as long-haul destinations such as Dubai, Mexico, and the US. It’s the base for airlines like, Ryanair and Tui Airways.

Around 12.6 million passengers used the airport in 2019 before the pandemic, compared to just 2.5 million people last year.

UK: Travel Chaos (April 2022)

The ranked list was based on the airport’s punctuality in 2021. But Jo Rhodes, an expert for consumer magazine Which? Travel, said 2022 “has been a different story entirely” as the sector struggles to cope with the spike in passenger numbers.

She said: “Holidaymakers have endured wide-scale flight cancellations as well as unacceptably long queues at check-in, bag drop and airport security.

“The Government must take action to restore consumer confidence in travel. That should involve stronger powers for the CAA, including the ability to fine airlines directly when they break the law.

“Ministers should also drop their ill-conceived plans to slash compensation rates for delayed or cancelled domestic flights.”