British holidaymakers heading for Eivissa and Palma last year suffered the longest flight delays, according to Civil Aviation Authority statistics. In general, holidaymakers heading for Mediterranean resorts last summer had the longest flight delays. Average delays for charter flights to and from Ibiza and to and from Faro in Portugal were more than 52 minutes. Civil Aviation Authority statistics show Palma (48 minutes), Malaga (43 minutes) and Alicante (37 minutes) also had long charter flight delays. The figures refer to flights to and from 10 UK airports for the period July-September 2001, the peak summer season which was last year over-shadowed by the three-day coach strike which left thousands of British tourists stranded in Palma and at their departure airports in the UK for as long as 13 hours. The airports are Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, London City, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle. Overall, the average delay of charter flights for this period was 41 minutes compared with 42 minutes during the summer season 2000. The proportion of charter flights on time last summer was 55% compared with 52% the previous summer. Only 49.2% of charter flights to and from Palma were on time last summer, while the figure for Faro was only 48.4%. With services affected by the extra security after the events of September 11, the average delay of scheduled flights increased from 16 minutes from July to September 2000 to 17 minutes in July-September 2001. A total of 69% of scheduled flights were on time last summer compared with 71% in summer 2000. However, the CAA pointed out that the many flights cancelled following the terrorist attacks on America were not included in the latest figures. Manchester, with 50 minutes, had the longest charter flight average delays last summer, while Edinburgh had the shortest (27 minutes). Luton had the longest scheduled flight average delays (24 minutes) while Newcastle had the shortest (12 minutes). Ironically, while the Balearics, Spain and other Mediterranean areas in general suffered the worst delays, the reduction in air traffic in the wake of September 11, according to Eurocontrol, reduced the average length of air delays to the rest of Europe and more economical use of airspace - effectively adding more air “lanes” from the end of January this year - should ease congestion even further. Eurocontrol are expecting fewer delays this summer because of the increase in air lanes and Palma airport, which last week had 18'700 take-off and landing slots reduced, could see a further reduction in air traffic, thus reducing delays even more.


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