London Airports: Has On-Time Performance Improved In A Year?

Out of London’s five major airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City – which ones are the worst culprits when it comes to on-time performance? Which ones have improved in the past year, and which still have work to do?

BAs terminal at Heathrow
British Airways Heathrow T5. Photo: eGuide Travel via Wikimedia

To find out, we looked at the OAG Airport Monthly OTP Reports and compared August 2018 with August this year. Before we go into the results, it’s important to note that ‘on-time’ in these particular reports refers to the percentage of flights which arrive or depart within 15 minutes of the scheduled time. Included in the reports are the percentage of flights cancelled, which was also taken into account when comparing these airports.

London Stansted improvements

Ryanair low cost model
London Stansted is Ryanair’s largest base. Photo: Ryanair

Let’s start with the positive. Coming in on top with the highest OTP – 72.8% – of London’s major airports this August is Stansted, which is also the most improved in terms of cancellations. In 2018, 4.6% of flights from the airport were cancelled, compared to 0.1% this year. When you look at the fact that the OTP last August was an unimpressive 51%, it’s clear Stansted is working on becoming more streamlined and efficient. As a result, they are now ranked globally at 801, compared to last year’s ranking of 1123.

London Luton, most improved

Luton Airport
London Luton Airport. Photo: Luton Airport

The honour of ‘Most Improved’ goes to Luton, whose OTP in August 2018 was a terrible 36.4% – this year, this number has almost doubled, to 60.1%. Cancellations have increased by 0.1%; however, the number of flights compared to last year also increased, so this should be considered when looking at these statistics. Luton’s global ranking has gone from 1185 to 1071.

London City, very steady

London City Airport. Photo: British Airways

London City has remained fairly steady in comparison with the other London airports – OTP has decreased by almost 2% (this year it’s at 62.1%) and although cancellations have gone down by 0.1%, there was a decrease in the number of flights this August compared to last year, so it’s not stellar news.

Heathrow going down

Passengers Heathrow
Passengers at Heathrow Airport. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Heathrow’s OTP, perhaps predictably, has gone down – from 70.4% to 67% – with cancellations having increased by almost 1%. However, when you consider the size of Heathrow – the largest London airport – which has around 80.1 million passengers annually, this decline in performance doesn’t seem as disappointing as at first glance, and it still has a fairly reasonable global ranking of 951.

Gatwick at the bottom

Finally, we get to the worst OTP – you guessed it, the ‘winner’ is Gatwick, ranked globally at 1158. It may have improved in a year by just over 1%, but it still has a miserable OTP of 50%. Plus, cancellations are exactly the same as last year – 0.8%. Yes, it’s the second busiest airport in the UK after Heathrow, but surely it can do better than just half of the flights leaving or departing on time. That’s a lot of passengers dealing with delays and flight interruptions, which is obviously a nightmare when travelling.

To sum up, Stansted and Luton came out on top, London City has remained consistently unimpressive, Heathrow is not as bad as expected and Gatwick needs considerable work to advance to the same level as the rest of the major London airports.
Were any of the results surprising? Which London airports do you expect to improve or get worse?

This article is sponsored by MyFlyRight