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Vueling Airlines is the least punctual major airline flying from airports in the UK, new research shows. The Spanish carrier’s UK departures were delayed by an average of 31 minutes last year, according to analysis of Civil Aviation Authority data by the PA news agency.

Thomas Cook also performed poorly, with average delays of 24 minutes, followed by Wizz Air on 23 minutes. Vueling said it had been “hugely affected” by strikes in France.

The research, which covered more than 40 airlines flying from UK airports, found the average delay across all flights was 16 minutes.

Other poor performers included Norwegian Air UK, a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Eurowings, both of which had average delays of 22 minutes.

Cathay Pacific Airways was the most punctual carrier, although its flights still typically took off eight minutes behind schedule.

Airline passengers faced chaos last summer as French air traffic controllers staged a series of strikes.

Vueling, which serves UK airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh, said its flights in and out of Barcelona had been hit by action in Marseille.

“During these strikes, Vueling flights to and from Barcelona and the UK could not fly straight across France but instead flew south of the Pyrenees and into the Atlantic, before looping back towards Britain,” a spokesman said.

“The location of Vueling’s [Barcelona] hub close to Marseille means it has been particularly badly affected.”

The carrier, which is owned by International Airlines Group – which also owns British Airways – also saw its own pilots walk out in May, leading to hundreds of cancellations.

Under EU rules, airline passengers are only entitled to compensation if they arrive at their destination more than three hours late.

However, consumer magazine Which? said flight delays could leave holidaymakers “hundreds of pounds out of pocket because of missed connections, transfers and fines for picking up their hire car late”.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, which represents UK-registered carriers, said too many flights are affected by the country’s “antiquated airspace”.

He added: “We support government in its efforts to introduce much-needed modernisation so we can continue to safely and effectively accommodate the ever rising demand for air travel.”


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