Spanish carrier Vueling has been named the least punctual airline operating in the UK with an average delay of 31 minutes, according to new research.

Analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data by the PA news agency reveals the average delay across 40 carriers flying from UK airports was 16 minutes in 2018.

Thomas Cook also put up a poor performance with average delays of 24 minutes, followed by Hungarian carrier Wizz Air at 23 minutes. The average Norwegian Air UK flight departed 22 minutes late, as did those operated by Eurowings.

Cathay Pacific was announced as the most punctual airline, with the average flight taking off eight minutes behind schedule.

Vueling’s owner International Airlines Group (IAG) said the carrier had been “hugely affected” by air traffic control strikes in France, with flights into and out of Barcelona particularly impacted by industrial action in Marseille.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh has previously called the strikes one of the ‘biggest threats to the industry’.

A spokesperson for Vueling said the strikes meant its flights between the UK and Barcelona could not flight straight over France but instead had to divert south of the Pyrenees and into the Atlantic before looping back towards the UK.

Time Alderslade, CEO of trade body Airlines UK, said flights are also being affected by the UK’s “antiquated airspace” – something the government is attempting to address as Heathrow prepares to build a third runway to open up capacity for the country.

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