Friday, April 17, 2009

we'll arrive on time

Number of passenger are down and flights have been cut, but the CAA yesterday discovered a silver lining amid the dark clouds hanging over the airline industry - punctuality has improved at nearly all of Britain's airports.

Airline insiders said that the economic downturn had relieved pressure on the overstretched airport and air traffic infrastructure and fewer flights were being delayed as a result.

It is also believed that fewer bags are being lost because the system is less strained.

The CAA's most recent figures show that in January 85.1 per cent of flights to Edinburgh, for example, were early or within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time, compared with 72 per cent in the same month last year. In this period, the number of flights at Edinburgh fell by 9.2 per cent and passenger numbers were down by 5.8 per cent.

A similar trend was seen at other regional airports and at Gatwick. Heathrow, the busiest airport in the world, recorded the greatest improvement in punctuality, up from 54.5 per cent on time last year to 75.2 per cent.

British Airways, Heathrow's largest carrier, said that it believed the improvement was largely due to the opening of Terminal 5 last year. Despite a difficult start, the terminal has added capacity of 30 million passengers a year and relieved pressure on other parts of Heathrow London flights.

Airlines such as British Airways have cut the number of flights in response to falling passenger demand.

Stansted is one of the few large airports that failed to improve punctuality. On-time flights in January fell to 78.2 per cent, down from 80.2 per cent last year. BAA, which owns Stansted, could not explain the fall.