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George Best/Belfast City Airport Alamy Stock Photo
proceed to gate

Gatwick had the longest delays of any UK airport last year, while Belfast City had the shortest

Meanwhile, Gatwick was the worst airport in the UK for flight delays last year.

BELFAST CITY, OR George Best Airport, had the shortest flight delays last year, an investigation has found.

It performed best among all airports in the UK, with a typical delay of 12-and-a-half minutes.

Meanwhile, Gatwick was the worst airport in the UK for flight delays last year.

Departures from the West Sussex airport were an average of nearly 27 minutes behind schedule in 2023, according to analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data by the PA news agency.

London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick, and Amsterdam-Schiphol were the most popular routes for passengers travelling through Dublin airport in the third quarter of 2023.

Gatwick, which is the second-busiest airport in the UK, was badly affected by air traffic control (ATC) staff shortages across Europe last year, and repeatedly suffered the same problem in its own control tower.

Gatwick said in a statement that it is working on improving its timings.

Luton airport had the second poorest punctuality record last year, with an average delay of almost 23 minutes.

Manchester airport wasn’t much better, at nearly 22 minutes.

The average delay for flights across all airports was almost 20 minutes and 42 seconds, down from 23 minutes and 12 seconds in 2022, when the aviation sector struggled to cope with a surge in demand for holidays following the end of coronavirus travel restrictions.

Irish flyers

Almost 1.4 million more passengers used Irish airports in July, August and September (Quarter 3) of 2023 than in the same period in 2022, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Over 78,000 flights were handled by Ireland’s five main airports in Q3 2023, with Dublin handling 83% of all flights (65,020), while Cork handled 8% of all flights (5,891).

Almost 30.2 million passengers passed through the main Irish airports in the first nine months of 2023, which was 5.9 million more passengers than those using the airports in the same period in 2022.

The top route for Cork and Shannon was London-Heathrow, while it was London-Stansted for Knock, and Dublin for Kerry.


The UK airport analysis took into account all scheduled and chartered departures from the 22 commercial UK airports with at least 1,000 outbound flights last year. Cancellations were not included.

When flights are significantly delayed or cancelled, airlines are required under consumer laws to provide passengers with assistance such as refreshments, a means of communication and overnight 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.

But air traffic control (ATC) issues are generally considered to be an “extraordinary circumstance”, meaning affected passengers are not entitled to payouts.

Gatwick imposed a temporary cap on flights in September 2023 in an attempt to reduce the number of short-notice cancellations and delays due to staff shortages in its ATC tower.

With reporting by the Press Association

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