The core summer months of July to September 2019 (Q3 2019), illustrated an improvement in the delay picture compared to Q3 2018, in comparison to the severe levels both passengers and the airline industry suffered from in Q3 2018. Despite this improvement, in the context of long-term performance the level of delay was the second worst in the last 10 years.
Following the record high delays of 2018, airlines made considerable efforts and investments such as scheduling improvements and using hot spare aircraft to improve on-time performance, in-turn improving the passenger experience in reducing reactionary delay.
The benefits of this can be seen in the third quarter, with punctuality improving to 73.8% (on arrival), compared to 71.7% in Q3 2018. Underlying this gain were significant reductions in reactionary (knock-on) delays, down 1.1 minutes, contributing 7.2 minutes to the average delay per flight. Primary delays from airline operations decreased by 0.3 minutes with a contribution of 3.8 minutes per flight, although airline operations remained the main cause of primary delay.
ATFM en-route delay remained a significant cause of delay to airlines, here the work in the last 10 years. However, in comparison to the severe levels of Q3 2018 this decreased to 2.4 minutes per flight. Again, airline investments helped, as did measures taken by the Network Manager and air navigation service providers for the summer, resulting in fewer ATC capacity, ATC staffing issues coupled with better weather.