Airport chaos: Two in five flights delayed at Doncaster Sheffield Airport in April

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Two in five flights at Doncaster Sheffield Airport were delayed in April, new figures show.

Some 202 flights - 40.5 per cent - of a total of 499 were affected.

April, which included the Easter break when holidaymakers faced mass delays and cancellations, saw flight punctuality fall to its lowest levels so far this year at the vast majority of large UK airports, analysis of data from the Civil Aviation Authority shows.

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Cancelled flight sign airport table, international departures schedule cancelCancelled flight sign airport table, international departures schedule cancel
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Officials count a flight as delayed if it is more than 15 minutes late.

Many people have been keen to return to taking trips abroad after years of lockdowns and restrictions, but the number of travellers remained well below pre-pandemic levels that month, the figures show.

Aviation experts say it is a lack of trained and vetted staff, both within airports and on airlines, that is at the root of the problems.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport .Doncaster Sheffield Airport .
Doncaster Sheffield Airport .

On Tuesday (June 21), the Government set out plans which aim to prevent last-minute flight cancellations during the summer peak.

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The regulations will allow a one-off ‘amnesty’ on airport slots rules, allowing airlines to deliver a more realistic summer schedule based on their staffing levels. The Department for Transport said this was being provided as an exceptional measure while the aviation industry recruits the necessary workers.

Flight slots are used to manage capacity at the busiest airports, giving an airline permission to use the runway, terminal and gates at an airport on a specific date and time.

Airlines must use slots a certain amount of times each season in order to keep them. However, many parts of the sector have been unable to recruit enough staff in time to fly the number of flights they have planned for, leading to flights being cancelled at short notice.

Subject to approval by Parliament, the Government will now give airlines a short window to temporarily hand back slots for the rest of the summer season that they are not confident they will be able to operate. Ministers said this would help passengers find alternative arrangements ahead of time, rather than face the kind of last-minute cancellations seen over the Easter and half-term holidays.

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Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “This is a hugely challenging time for our recovering aviation industry.”

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