ABOUT 1.3million air passengers flying in or out of UK airports suffered delays of at least three hours in the 12 months to June.
This is equivalent to nearly 3,500 passengers a day and is up from the 1.2million the previous year.
More than 13,000 flights were affected, said consumer group Which?, whose figures are based on Civil Aviation Authority data.
The airlines with the highest percentage of long-haul delays were Norwegian (2.4 per cent), Thomas Cook (1.8 per cent) and TUI (1.6 per cent). Icelandair (1.7 per cent), Aurigny (1.6 per cent) and TUI (1.4 per cent) had the highest proportion of severely delayed short-haul flights.
Non-European Union-based carriers were excluded from the data.
Under EU regulations, passengers are entitled to compensation if they are delayed by more than three hours when flying from the UK or with an EU airline to an EU airport. Payouts can be worth up to £535, depending on the destination and the length of delay. Airlines are only exempt from paying out if they can prove the delay was caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as extreme weather or airport strikes.
Alex Neill, of Which?, said: ‘It is vital that automatic compensation is introduced so that people no longer have to jump through hoops to get what they are owed.’
A spokesman for industry body Airlines UK said British airlines have an ‘excellent record’ of paying out compensation when it is due for the ‘minority’ of flights that are delayed.