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Virgin Atlantic ‘second most punctual airline’ in the UK in 2023 – with Wizz Air the worst

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Wizz Air has been named the least punctual UK airline for 2023, closely followed by Turkish Airlines and TUI.

The list, published in full below, was produced by the Press Association using publicly available granular data from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Wizz Air has now topped the ‘least punctual’ list for three years.

Least punctual UK airline

The average UK flight was delayed by 20 minutes from 23 minutes, which was an improvement on 2022.

Wizz Air was well out in front with an average UK delay of over 31 minutes. Turkish Airlines and TUI couldn’t even begin to match that, coming in at an average delay of 28 minutes.

British Airways came in 10th worst out of the 33 carriers covered, with an average delay of 21 minutes. It was six seconds worse than easyJet.

Virgin Atlantic performed impressively well, coming in second best. The average delay was just 13 minutes.

The most punctual airline was Emerald Airlines, which runs Aer Lingus Regional flights to/from Ireland on a franchise basis.

Who were the least punctual UK airlines in 2023?

  • Wizz Air (31 minutes)
  • Turkish Airlines (28 minutes)
  • TUI (28 minutes)
  • Air India (28 minutes)
  • Pegasus Airlines (25 minutes)
  • TAP Air Portugal (23 minutes)
  • Vueling (23 minutes)
  • SWISS (22 minutes)
  • Air Canada (22 minutes)
  • British Airways (21 minutes)
  • easyJet (21 minutes)
  • Aurigny (20 minutes)
  • Ryanair (19 minutes)
  • Loganair (19 minutes)
  • American Airlines (18 minutes)
  • Eastern Airways (18 minutes)
  • Air France (18 minutes)
  • Emirates (18 minutes)
  • Lufthansa (18 minutes)
  • Eurowings (17 minutes)
  • (17 minutes)
  • Norwegian (17 minutes)
  • Aer Lingus (17 minutes)
  • Qatar Airways (16 minutes)
  • KLM (15 minutes)
  • United Airlines (15 minutes)
  • Blue Islands (15 minutes)
  • Delta Airlines (15 minutes)
  • Iberia (14 minutes)
  • SAS (14 minutes)
  • Virgin Atlantic (13 minutes)
  • Emerald Airlines (13 minutes)

Comments (30)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Greenpen says:

    If a railway performed as these airlines they would be in severe trouble!

  • Michael C says:

    IOM most cancelled flights at over 5%!!

  • sayling says:

    With the advent of EC261, airlines seem to have been disproportionately padding their arrival times – an understandable ‘defensive’ policy.

    Does it not therefore stand that, for performance purposes, it would be a better measure to use departure time delays – at least as a separately available figure?

    Whilst it may be more important for connections and itinerary planning to know how likely you will arrive at your destination on time, the fact that the arrival time is, effectively, a ‘worst case scenario designed to minimise compensation’ makes it a little pointless for performance measurement

    • Nick says:

      No – departure statistics can be much more easily fudged than arrival ones. For example, last year BA ops staff got fed up of IAG constantly whingeing that IB’s punctuality was so much better than theirs, so they changed the accounting mechanism to match and scored a huge improvement overnight, with zero noticeable changes to passengers. The difference? Shorthaul flights now release the parking brake before (rather than after) calling ATC to say they’re ready. If ATC don’t give them clearance to push and the aircraft sits on stand for another 20 mins it doesn’t matter, it ‘departed’ on time. You would think that’s stupid, BA staff think it’s stupid, terminal staff still have to wait like they always did, but the stats look better so it’s all ok…

      Nearly all modern aircraft record door opening time automatically – as this is very hard to fudge (only exception really is a remote stand if the door is opened before a bus is available), and is much more relevant in terms of onward journey planning, it’s a far better measure to use for EU261 and similar punctuality reporting measures.

      • sayling says:

        But all BA need to do now is add another 20 minutes to all their arrival times, and – hey presto!

        I confess I don’t know the measurement point of departure time ie the time quoted by the airlines (brakes off, doors closed, pushback, wheels leaving tarmac, etc), but a consistent, measurable point used for all statistics must be a better measure of airline punctuality, surely – putting aside EC261 factors

        • Nick says:

          It’s not as simple as that, because it would have knock-on effects to the next flight used by the aircraft. Yes there’s arrival padding, but it also means the next flight is scheduled 20 mins later. At some point you run out of time in the day (or slots).

  • Douglas Woods says:

    ‘ Wizz Air has been named the least punctual UK airline for 2023, closely followed by Turkish Airlines and TUI.’ Surely ‘closely followed by’ is non-sensical here as it suggests the othyer two airlines were worse?

    BTW how is departure time calculated, by the time boarding commences, by the time the aircraft leaves the gate, or the time the aircraft takes off?

    • John Lewis says:

      Departure is timed calculated from when the aircraft pushes back from the gate.

  • occasionalranter says:

    Emerald flights to/From Exeter must help the averages ? Exeter not exactly a congested airport…

  • Bernard says:

    Wizz. You get what you pay for and the CEO has been more interested in his mega bonus than customers.
    Horrible airline. Always pay the extra for anyone but Wizz. It’s definitely ‘low cost done badly’.
    Thats as a fan of F on Lufi but also a big fan of Ryanair.

  • Jane Dew says:

    The worse? Worst

  • Londonsteve says:

    These stats are pretty meaningless frankly. While an airline that suffers more serious delays may have a worse ‘average’ figure than another, what really counts from a passenger perspective is the chance of experiencing a major delay, not all their flights generally being 20 minutes late. BA for example heavily pads the schedule knowing that operating out of Heathrow there’s a high chance of having to stack on arrival. As a result, the aircraft due to fly you might be on the ground 90 minutes before the scheduled departure time if ATC gives it a straight in approach. Its business model accepts a lower utilisation rate allowing arising from the greater padding. LCCs don’t do this and are therefore more likely to be running an hour behind by the end of the day, that doesn’t mean they have poor time keeping per se. In return for more regular short delays they offer far keener prices.

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