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The 3 most common reasons for flight delays

It is nearly impossible to avoid flight delays and cancellations.  You may have experienced a flight delay or perhaps you have even experienced it up to several times?

2022 was a difficult year, as the aviation industry struggled to meet the increasing demand. Correspondingly, staff shortages and strikes both at airlines and at airports largely influenced delays and punctuality across the network in Europe. Other general complications behind delays included weather conditions.

According to a newly published report by Eurocontrol, delays and punctuality across the network were worse in 2022 than in 2019.

Arrival and departure punctuality were, at 72% and 66%. In both cases it was around 6-7 percentage points worse than 2019 – with peak summer seeing this drop in both cases to 40-50%.

There can be many reasons behind a flight delay or cancellation. In this article we will look at the 3 most common reasons for flight delays.

Lack of air traffic controllers

ATC capacity/staff shortages are a major cause of flight delays in Europe, costing over £800 million in 2022 according to Eurocontrol. Furthermore, as air traffic recovers and grows, this problem is expected to continue.

The lack of air traffic controllers accounts for approx. 47% of all flight delays in Europe. The average of these delays lasts around 70 minutes.

It costs an airline around £109 per minute, for every minute the airline is delayed. In addition, it costs the airports extra money, as they have to pay higher wages to the staffs that are affected by the delays.

Both the airlines and the airports are trying to pressure the EU to come up with a solution, but at the moment it doesn’t look like there is a solution on the way. Therefore, it is to be expected that in busy months such as June, July and August, there may be some delays ahead.

Bad weather conditions

Weather-related delays are one of the most significant factors, which depending on the month of the year account for approx. 25% of all flight delays in Europe.

This factor will probably always be present in one form or another, as you will always take your safety measures to ensure the flight is as safe as possible for the passengers and employees on the plane.

However, it is expected that bad weather conditions will play a smaller and smaller role in the future. The new airplanes are built much more robust and have advanced technology that makes them much easier to navigate for the pilots.

Read more about what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled due to bad weather.

Airline or airport strikes

In addition to the fact that there is a major shortage of air traffic controllers, it is also very common in European airspace for aircrew to strike due to poor working and pay conditions.

High levels of traffic combined with staff shortages and strikes at both airlines and airports tested passengers’ patience this year

Strikes in the airline industry account for approx. 14% of all delays in European airspace, which is an enormously high number.

It has become much cheaper to fly today compared to before, as the airlines are currently in a major price war. In order for airlines to survive and attract customers, they will have to lower their prices as much as possible. Unfortunately, this often goes beyond the quality and conditions of the employees in the airline industry.

According to Eurocontrol 2023 is expected to be one of the most difficult years of the last decade;

“Keeping summer delays down will be an immense task for all actors, with airspace issues due to the Ukraine war, extra aircraft in the system, possible industrial action, system changes, and the progressive reopening of Asian markets all asking real questions of the system.”

However, we will begin to emerge from the tunnel into 2023 and beyond, as Eurocontrol is confident that the recovery continues to strengthen as capacity and staffing issues are gradually tackled. They expect 2023 total traffic will reach 92% of pre-COVID levels, with full recovery from the pandemic to take place in 2025.

TravelRefund help you to assert your rights in case of a cancellation, flight delay or denied boarding

Did you know that you might be eligible compensation, if you have experienced a delayed flight or cancellation within the last 3 years? According to the European regulation 261/2004 airlines are obliged to pay cash compensation to passengers if their situations satisfy the list of specific criteria.

We operate on a no cure, no pay basis, which means that you won’t get charged if our case isn’t victorious.

Are you interested in learning about your options and are you thinking about filing compensation claim for your flight delay? Then don’t hesitate to fill out our online form and we will reach out to you.

Read more about how you can assert your rights as an air passenger.

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Had a delayed or canceled flight within the past 3 years? Get up to 600€ pr. passenger!

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