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airport chrismas cancelled flights

300% Annual Increase in the Number of Cancelled Christmas Flights

Flying home for Christmas to spend time with friends and family should be a magical time. Not, however, for the thousands of UK air passengers who risk having their Christmas spoilt by a cancelled flights.

A NEW investigation into five-years’ of flight data has found a shocking increase in the number of Christmas flight cancellations. Air passenger rights organisation, AirHelp, reveals 338% more flights were cancelled during the festive period in 2018 (570) compared to 2014 (130). In fact, last year (2018) 63,000 passengers flying from the UK had to endure the disruption caused by a cancelled flight, in comparison to 11,000 passengers in 2014 – a 470% increase across the five-year period.


The investigation by AirHelp also found the number of passengers affected by 2018 Christmas flight cancellations in the UK was 338% higher than those in France (14,400) and 146% higher than those in Germany (25,600). The number of cancelled passengers in the UK was also over four times as high as those in Spain (14,500) and Italy (12,900), making it the nation most prone to festive flight cancellations in Europe. 

In the UK, cancellations by easyJet caused the most disruption over the Christmas period in 2018. The airline’s failure to get its flights off the ground affected 26,400 passengers. The second poorest performing airline was British Airways, whose cancellations affected 9,900 of its passengers. Norwegian (8,600 passengers cancelled) and Flybe (4,000 passengers cancelled) came in at third and fourth.

Under EU law EC261, if a flight is delayed by more than three hours, cancelled, or in an instance of denied boarding, passengers are entitled to financial compensation of up to 600EUR (approx. £530) per person if the cause of the disruption was in the airline’s control

Paloma Salmeron, passenger rights expert at AirHelp, comments: “The extent of UK flight cancellations at Christmas-time is completely intolerable. Most people will forgive the occasional unavoidable delay or cancellation, particularly if this is out of the airline’s control and provided they are treated fairly, but it’s unacceptable that passengers flying from the UK are having to contend with disruption at this scale. At AirHelp, we urge passengers to know their rights before flying over the Christmas period and assert their entitlement to claim the compensation that is rightfully theirs if they endure a delayed or cancelled flight. With an alarming 85% of UK passengers unaware of their rights, AirHelp will continue to educate and give the resources and knowledge they need to ensure the law is working in their favour.”

The same investigation by AirHelp reveals that in 2019 (1st January – 30th November 2019), 865,000 passengers had their flights cancelled in the UK. British Airways (354,000 passengers cancelled), Flybe (78,000 cancelled) and Loganair (19,000), were the worst cancellation offenders across the year.

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