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Flight delays more than doubled in the past four years, study finds, as millions of passengers suffer holiday woes

Telegraph Reporters
Queues in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport as the UK's biggest airport, July 26, 2019. - PA

Flight delays have more than doubled in the last four years leading to millions of passengers suffering holiday woes, a new report has found. 

Data analysed by Which? shows punctuality in the skies has deteriorated drastically in the last five years which has left travellers out of pocket as well as frustrated.

The data from 2014 to 2018, produced by the Civil Aviation Authority, found that eight of the UK's 10 busiest carriers have seen an increase in delays of more than an hour - with an estimated 17 million passengers affected last year alone.

The study shows that Ryanair, Wizz Air and Easyjet delays have doubled over the last four years while Thomas Cook is the worst airline for delays overall.

Which? says it is concerned that some airlines and airports have failed to match the rapid growth in the number of flights with the resources needed to handle an increase in traffic, resulting in huge inconvenience and added expense for passengers when connecting flights or trains are missed.

Yet these people are unlikely to be entitled to a penny in compensation.

Delays of one hour or more with Ryanair have more than doubled in the past five years, from three per cent in 2014, to nearly eight per cent.

Easyjet also saw an increase from under five per cent in 2014 to almost nine per cent last year.

The same could be said for Wizz Air who went from three per cent to over six per cent.

But Thomas Cook passengers were the most likely to face a delay of at least an hour, with a one in nine (11.5%) chance of getting back from their holidays at least an hour late.

Thomas Cook, Ryanair and EasyJet have all increased the number of flights they operate by between 30 per cent and 70 per cent since 2014, according to the CAA data.

When it came to the airports, Stansted was the UK's worst for delays by some margin -- with more than twice as many departing flights delayed by an hour than at Heathrow, the busiest airport in the country.

Delays at Stansted have been getting worse every year for the last five years -- and passengers now have a one in 10 chance (10%) of being delayed by an hour or more.

At Heathrow, the number of flights delayed by an hour or more is just four per cent.

EasyJet and Thomas Cook both claimed factors beyond their control were to blame for the delays, such as airspace, weather and strikes, while Ryanair claimed Which? figures were "inflated and inaccurate".

A Stansted airport spokesperson said  it had posted significantly improved results in the first quarter of 2019.