Bristol Airport top in flight punctuality, offers new routes

Bristol Airport leads the world’s best when it comes to flight punctuality according to OAG’s Punctuality League, with an on-time performance rating of 94.4 per cent, the airport said in a release.

The league tables were prepared by OAG, a global aviation information provider, and are based on 43.5 million flight records from 4,000 airports worldwide. The report covers the 2014 calendar year and is based on the proportion of flights arriving and departing within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.

Commenting on the world ranking, Robert Sinclair, Bristol Airport’s CEO, said: ‘We are delighted that Bristol Airport has topped the table in OAG’s Punctuality League measuring flight punctuality across the world in 2014.

‘This achievement is a joint effort and is testament to the collaborative approach taken by airlines, ground handlers and our own team. It demonstrates the advantages offered by regional airports such as Bristol, where airlines operate in uncongested airspace with greater flexibility and resilience in the event of any disruption. It also shows the clear benefits of our continued investment in infrastructure over the last decade or more, from the installation of a CATIII all-weather landing system to the construction of new boarding facilities such as the central walkway which opened last summer.’

Bristol Airport has recently announced new routes by Thomson and First Choice, as well as from airlines easyJet and Wizzair, offering more choice of destinations for Bristol sun seekers and holidaymakers.

easyJet has announced additional three new routes to its portfolio at Bristol Airport. From April and May 2015, the airline will start flying to Bilbao, Isle of Man and Zante. This is in addition to the four new routes to Gibraltar, Porto, Lanzarote and Catania announced for summer 2015.

In addition, Wizz Air said that it will operate a twice-weekly service to Katowice, Poland from June 26, 2015.


Disoriented Ryanair passengers cause Stansted delays

There were major delays at Stansted airport yesterday, after passengers disembarking from a Ryanair flight inadvertently entered the airport through a door that had been left open in error.

The passengers, who had arrived from Lisbon, Portugal, on a flight that landed at 9.20am, created confusion that resulted in them having to be processed by departures security before being transferred to arrivals. The unexpected influx interfered with the departures process, causing long delays for passengers arriving at the airport to board flights.

According to a BBC report, the incident is being investigated by the airport authorities.

Despite having drafted in extra staff to deal with the incident, Stansted said that passengers faced ‘long security queues’ and delays of up to an hour on some flights.

Ryanair absolved itself from blame, claiming that its crew had disembarked passengers ‘to the assigned gate.’ A Ryanair spokesman said, ‘The crew of this flight correctly directed disembarking customers to the assigned gate. However, customers entered the airport through a door which had been left open in error.’

‘Ryanair fully cooperated with Stansted airport as it rescreened departing passengers. A number of flights were delayed throughout the day due to earlier issues with de-icing facilities.’

Despite the airport’s assertion that most delays caused by the incident were of little more than an hour, Twitter messages from disgruntled passengers affected by the departure delays suggested that many had been kept waiting for two hours or more before the airport’s staff were able to regain control of the situation.


Passengers shunning Heathrow and Gatwick in favour of regional airports, bmi regional

Amid concerns that London Heathrow and Gatwick are running at full capacity and the long delays and flight cancellations caused by health screening at UK’s busiest airports, bmi regional reported that travellers increasingly prefer regional airports at this time.

On Sunday, Heathrow reported delays on up to 25% of outgoing flights and 18% of incoming flights, following bad weather, an online report said.

bmi regional CEO Cathal O’Connell said: ‘The chaotic scenes we have witnessed at London Heathrow over the past couple of days rarely happen at other airports. Heathrow and Gatwick are working at capacity and travelling to and from them is often stressful and time consuming.’

According to the British regional airline, travellers are now beginning to realise the benefits of flying from regional airports, such as less stressful journey times to the airport, fewer crowds and quicker check-in, convenient and cheaper car parking and less luggage time.

Cathal O’Connell adds: ‘Flying from regional airports will really cut down on parking charges – and the parking is much closer to the airport so saves time. Bristol is amongst the cheapest in the UK for on-site seven-day parking offering rates from just £29. At Birmingham Airport, you can literally walk to the long term car park in ten minutes – less time than it takes to get to the short term car park in Heathrow.

Smaller airports tend to be easier to travel to either by road or public transport, meaning shorter and more pleasant journeys. Increasingly we’re seeing consumers opt for the regional option, citing less stressful check-in processes, more pleasant journey times to the airport and cheaper parking closer to the airport as some of the main reasons.’

According to a survey by Which?, business parking at Heathrow costs up to £88.70, compared to just £19.84 at Manchester Airport. Additionally, average baggage carousel waiting times are listed as 29 minutes 29 seconds at Heathrow, almost double the 16 minutes and 15 seconds at Manchester.

While regional airports generally have fewer security delays, Heathrow currently advises passengers to allow three hours at the airport for long-haul flights, two hours for European flights and 90 minutes for domestic flights. Waiting times and security checks are often much shorter at regional airports.


UK airports register record flight punctuality

UK airports have registered the best ever first quarter on-time performance with 84 percent of scheduled flights landing ‘on-time’, the latest CAA figures have revealed.

According to the CAA data, for the three months ended March 31, 2014, overall on-time performance was six percentage points higher than the same period in 2013, making it the best first quarter since records began in 1992. An ‘on-time’ flight is defined as landing/arriving at its destination either early or up to 15 minutes late.

The five biggest London airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City – registered an overall increase of eight percentage points of on-time flights as a proportion of total scheduled flights, rising from 76% to 84%.

And the five other airports monitored – Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle – have seen an overall increase of six percentage points, from 81% to 87% of flights on-time, the CAA said in its release.

Separately, all 10 airports registered an improvement in punctuality. The average delay across all monitored scheduled flights was nine minutes, a reduction of four minutes when compared to the first quarter of 2013.

For scheduled flights, on-time performance increased by four to eight percentage points, with the biggest increase being at Newcastle, which recorded a nine percentage point rise. For charter flights, the overall on-time performance was 76% – an increase of seven percentage points, when compared with the first quarter of 2013, while the average delay fell by five minutes.

The CAA monitored 304,000 scheduled and 10,000 charter passenger flights at the 10 airports for punctuality in the first quarter of 2014. This represents a 2.3% increase in scheduled flights and a 10.5% fall in charter flights compared with the same quarter in 2013.

In the first quarter of 2014, the busiest 75 scheduled international destinations had between 900 and 13,000 flights to and from the 10 UK airports. Of those, Rotterdam recorded the highest on-time performance with 91.7%, and Hannover had the lowest average delay of 5.1 minutes. Flights to and from Dubai achieved the lowest on-time performance with 63.4%, and Delhi had the highest average delay of 28.3 minutes.


London Heathrow Airport Announces Second Phase of Efficiency Trial

London Heathrow Airport has announced the commencement of the second phase of a trial to improve and control punctuality and flight delays at the airport from July 1, 2012. The trial will be running until the end of March 2013.

BAA LTD, owner and operator of six British airports, including Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with the UK Department of Transport, a UK government department, will conduct the second phase of the Operational Freedoms trial.

The first phase of the Operational Freedoms trial ran from November 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012. In this phase, the airport experimented with ways of using runways and airspace to work through disruptions affecting the airport operations. New measures implemented during this phase involved the use of both runways for arrivals or departures, instead of only one.

The Civil Aviation Authority has recently published results from the first phase of the trial, which includes improvements in punctuality, the lowering of emissions, and a reduction in the number of planes taxiing across runways. However, people living near to the airport have complained about an increase in sound pollution, and the authority has reported that detailed analysis is required to link the first phase of the trials to the increased sound levels.

Tim Hardy, the airside director for BAA, said, ‘This trial does not mean an increase in the number of flights operating in and out of Heathrow. However, with Heathrow operating at full capacity, we need to look at ways to strengthen resilience, which will bring benefits to the local community through fewer late-running flights, to passengers by providing a more punctual service, and to the environment by reducing aircraft stacking and emissions.’


Public sector strikes could delay travellers by up to 12 hours

Passengers could face delays of up to 12 hours and flight cancellations next week when immigration officers go on strike following a row over public sector pensions.


Normand Boivin, Heathrow’s operating officer has said travellers may be held on aircrafts for their own safety.


He said: “Modelling of the impacts of strike action on passenger flows at Heathrow show that there are likely to be very long delays of up to 12 hours to arriving passengers”.


“The delays at immigration are likely to be so long that passengers could not be safely accommodated within the terminals and would need to be held on arriving aircraft”.


He added: “This in turn would quickly create gridlock at the airport with no available aircraft parking stands, mass cancellations or departing aircraft and diversions outside the UK for arriving aircraft”.


Gatwick have warned that passengers may need to rebook their flights due to possible disruptions at border zones. 18,000 immigration officials are expected to go on strike next week.


Scott Stanley, chief operating officer said: “Gatwick continues to work closely with the UK Border Agency and its airlines to ensure robust contingency measures are put in place to ensure disruption to passengers and airport operations is kept to a minimum”.
He added: “We would advise passengers to check with their airline to find out what plans and arrangements have been put in place. We recognise that this will be a challenging time for all airport passengers, and we would warn passengers to be prepared for the potential for significant disruption at the border zones on November 30”.


On November 30th more than two million workers will take part in a 24-hour walkout. In an announcement earlier this week civil servants from across Whitehall would be called in to cover for immigration officials, a move which has been criticised by trade unions.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh


New measures to cut delays at Heathrow


Passengers using Heathrow and communities around the airport could benefit from reduced delays, less stacking and fewer unscheduled night flights at the UK’s busiest airport as part of a trial of new measures announced today by Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers.

The measures are set out in the final report by the Government’s South East Airports Taskforce which has been published today. They are focused on making Heathrow more resilient and better able to recover on days when the airport’s operations are disrupted by poor weather or other problems.

When such problems occur, these proposals would allow, exceptionally, both Heathrow’s runways to be used simultaneously for either arrivals or departures as a way to cut delays and cancellations and get punctuality back on track.

The Task-force also endorsed plans for a switch to a smarter, more effective and more passenger-friendly airport security regime for all UK airports – details of which have also been published today for consultation.

Set up to identify operational improvements at the UK’s three busiest airports – the South East Airports Taskforce included representatives from airlines, airport operators, regulators and other interests.

Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers said:

“Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports play a vital role in supporting the UK economy. Improving the reliability of these airports, particularly Heathrow, was a priority for the Task-force.

“These measures have the potential to deliver greater reliability for passengers, while reducing the impact of unscheduled night flights on local communities. Trialling these changes will allow their benefits and impacts to be assessed and there will be extensive engagement and consultation with local communities before any decision is taken on whether to make the changes permanent.

“Coupled with today’s proposals to give UK airports more flexibility in the way they deliver airport security, passengers should begin to see real improvements. I am grateful to all Taskforce members for working so constructively together to help make our airports better.”

Under existing arrangements, Heathrow operates largely on a runway alternation system, whereby one runway is used for arrivals and the other for departures – with the roles reversed halfway through the day to provide respite from noise for residents living near the end of the runways. The Government has made clear its support for the continuation of runway alternation.

BAA Strike Will Add to 2010 Airline Woes

Employees of BAA ( formerly British Airlines Authority) are threatening to strike, a move which could spell disaster for Britain’s tourism industry. The six airports owned and operated by BAA cover several of the UK’s biggest travel and aviation regions, and could result in thousands of missed flights and cancelled appointments if closure is the final outcome.

BAA was privatized in the late 1980s as part of efforts by the Thatcher government to minimize state control of assets. The company operates six airports within the United Kingdom and many more overseas, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. The closure of the company’s UK assets is projected to cost the travel industry tens-of-millions of dollars in lost revenue.

It’s also threatening to ruin thousands of holidays, particularly as the strikes are planned to occur during the nation’s peak tourism season. Unite union officials are aiming to avoid a strike, instead opting to negotiate for a more competitive pay deal directly with airport authorities. BAA’s offer of a 1% annual pay rise was rejected by the union, who claim that the workers deserve more.

Should the strike go ahead, it will be the second major setback for Britain’s travel industry. Delays and cancelled flights from the Icelandic volcano eruption have cost the industry several hundred million dollars already, with some of Europe’s largest airlines still involved in efforts to repay and reimburse those affected by the disaster.

With several leading travel firms teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, another setback could spell the end of commercial travel bookings. Recent strikes by British Airways and a lack of disposable income have already hurt the travel industry, resulting in missed revenue targets and several major bankruptcy cases. Approximately 35% of the involved employees support moves to strike.