Dublin airport second worst for punctuality


PUNCTUALITY AT Dublin airport is the second worst in Europe, with one aircraft in three delayed by more than 15 minutes, according to a new survey.

Dublin is second only to London Heathrow for delays to both departing and arriving aircraft, the punctuality figures published by the Association of European Airlines (AEA) show.

Some 33 per cent of departing flights from Dublin were delayed by more than 15 minutes in the first quarter of the year, while 33.8 per cent of arrivals were late.

Heathrow's figures of 44.1 per cent for departures and 45.1 per cent for arrivals were inflated by the debacle over the opening of the new Terminal 5.

The figures cover most of the major international airlines using Dublin airport but not Aer Lingus or Ryanair.

Aer Lingus is one of the 33 members of the AEA but stopped submitting punctuality figures to the organisation after it was "downsized" some years back.

However, its own figures show a similar slide in punctuality this year; the proportion of planes delayed by more than 15 minutes at all airports increased from 19 per cent in May 2007 to 34 per cent in May 2008, the most recent month for which figures are available. The airline says 94 per cent of its flights arrive within an hour of the scheduled time.

Ryanair, which is not a member of the AEA, says on its website that 89 per cent of all its flights in Europe arrived on time in January.

A spokeswoman for Dublin airport said Aer Lingus and Ryanair accounted for 75 per cent of its business, so the survey did not give a comprehensive picture of punctuality. Dublin airport does not compile its own figures on delays.

She said there were many factors involved in delays, many of which were beyond the control of the airport. "Ultimately, it's up to the airlines to get their airplanes in and out of the airport on time."

According to the AEA report, late arrivals accounted for 15 per cent of delays in departures at Dublin airport.

Air traffic control problems were blamed for 11.1 per cent of delays, and other reasons were weather (2.8 per cent), aircraft handling and flight operations problems (2.5 per cent) and maintenance issues and equipment failure (1.5 per cent).

Where delays occurred, the average delay in departing was 45.1 minutes, the fourth worst figure for the 27 airports included in the survey. For delayed arrivals to Dublin airport, the average extra wait was 40.1 minutes.

The AEA reports a "marked deterioration" in punctuality across Europe compared to the first quarter of 2007. This year, 22.4 per cent of departures were delayed, compared to 20.5 per cent the previous year.

In many cases, it says, aircraft are ready to leave but clearance is withheld because of hold-ups en route or at the destination.

The worst-affected airports after Heathrow and Dublin were Helsinki, Geneva and Frankfurt.

The airport with the best record was Munich, with 17.6 per cent delayed departures, followed by Vienna, Larnaca, Dusseldorf and Istanbul.

An AEA spokesman said this was the third quarter in a row in which Dublin had featured in the top five for delays.

Meanwhile, the UK consumer magazine Which?has ranked Aer Lingus in the top 10 among short-haul carriers for customer satisfaction. Ryanair, which has branded the survey "useless", was ranked 33rd of the 43 carriers surveyed.