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Lowest level of flight delays since records began

04.05.2012

Flight delays caused by NATS air traffic control have been cut by 99 per cent in 10 years to an all-time low level.

Figures for February to April 2012 show the average NATS air traffic control (ATC) delay was down to 1.4 seconds per flight, the lowest figure since records began in the mid-1990s.

That compares to an average delay of 132.1 seconds 10 years ago. NATS’ introduction of new technology and smarter utilisation of staff has contributed to the steady decrease in delays.

In total there was only 11,278 minutes of NATS ATC delay during February, March and April of this year across more than 497,000 flights handled. In 2002 the figure was more than 994,000 minutes of delay for nearly 452,000 flights.

NATS Operations Director Swanwick, Simon Hocquard, said: “Advancements in technology, such as the introduction of flight management tools like iFACTS, have made a significant contribution to this dramatic improvement in our delay figures.

“This also demonstrates that we are in a really good position ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games which is likely to be the biggest single event for air traffic movements the country has ever seen.

“We are much more proactive in managing the flow of aircraft into UK airspace, as well as making sure the controlled airspace we have to work with is structured to provide the greatest efficiency for the benefit of our airline customers and the passengers who fly with them.

“But most importantly it has been the efforts of NATS staff who, over the past 10 years, have tirelessly worked to ensure we provide the best possible service for the benefit of the travelling public.”

He added: “I know that from time to time on flights pilots will say they have been held up by an air traffic control delay, but if that is the case it is invariably an issue beyond our control, such as serious weather or industrial action in Europe.

“These figures show that the chance of being delayed by a NATS air traffic control issue is now extremely rare.”

Feb/Apr Year

NATS Attrib Delay (mins)

Traffic

Average Delay per Flight (secs)

2012

11,278

497,187

1.4

2011

36,411

501,049

4.4

2010

20,529

462,193

2.7

2009

25,996

513,448

3.0

2008

186,124

579,732

19.3

2007

104,900

565,437

11.1

2006

156,086

544,780

17.2

2005

72,965

525,199

8.3

2004

229,960

502,145

27.5

2003

294,546

472,474

37.4

2002

994,811

451,894

132.1

Press Office Contacts

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Fax: 01489 615734
press.office@nats.co.uk