To track and improve their performance, airlines classify the causes of delays on departure:
"primary" causes, the majority of which in a typical month are linked to one of the airline’s own processes, such as refuelling or aircraft technical checks; "primary" also includes airport-related delays such as congestion on the ramp, and air traffic management delays; and "reactionary" delay, which is delay carried over from a previous flight and that hasn’t been caught up.
One rare primary cause is the "immigration, customs and health" category, for example for delays at passport control. In a typical year, only about 1% of delay falls in this category.
This is not, however, a typical year. During the pandemic, departure delays due to ‘immigration, customs and health’ have jumped from next to nothing to 0.6-0.8 minutes for every flight.
Indeed, preliminary data for July reached 0.8 minutes per flight. That’s 10-20% of all primary delay that is down to the extra time taken, mostly at check-in, needed to check what the destination specifically needs, whether the passengers have the right combinations of test and vaccination certificates.
Even if passengers are arriving early, in some cases it’s not early enough, when there are long queues for these checks. Moreover, being departure statistics, they do not include further checks on passengers at arrival, for which there have also been anecdotal reports of substantial delays.
© aero.uk | 01/09/2021 15:17