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Stansted and easyJet amongst world's most underperforming airports and airlines

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UK airports and airlines fare poorly in annual AirHelp Score report

  • Stansted was ranked the world’s second worst airport (#140/141) (ahead only of Kuwait International)
  • Manchester and Edinburgh airports also ranked low – both in bottom 10 globally
  • Gatwick airport fared better but is still in the world’s poorest 20 airports
  • easyJet cited as one of the world’s worst operators (#69/72), with a particularly low score (1.3/10) for compensation claims processing
  • London Heathrow is the UK’s best performing airport (#81/141)
  • Virgin Airlines is the only UK-based operator to feature in the world’s top 10 airlines, coming in at  #10


LONDON (June 6, 2018) – UK airports and operators have some serious improvement to do. That’s according to AirHelp, the world’s leading flight compensation company, which has announced its annual AirHelp Score rating today. The report found the UK air travel industry is performing poorly across the board, with Stansted one of the world’s worst performing airports and easyJet one of the poorest operators.

In one of the most comprehensive and accurate data-based evaluations of airlines and airports of its kind, AirHelp analysed a series of key performance indicators for air travel looking at factors including on-time performance and quality of service. It also measured Twitter sentiment for every airport and claims processing as a KPI for the airlines.

Improvement is needed in UK airports

The UK has four airports in the poorest 20 in the world. Stanstead is the UK’s worst performing airport and was ranked second bottom in the global list, driven largely by poor Twitter sentiment (1.10/10). However, by this metric, London Gatwick was the worst performing airport globally with only (0.6/10), although it was ranked marginally higher than Stansted overall (#123/141). Sandwiched between these two airports are Edinburgh (#134/141) and Manchester (#136/141), both of which also received poor scores for Twitter sentiment.

It was better news for London Heathrow. While only appearing midway in the league table (#81/141), it was cited as the UK’s best performing airport. This is largely driven by a high rating when it came to on-time performance (8.24/10) and gaining 8/10 for quality of service. However, it still lags well behind the number one ranked airport, Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar, which was nine or above on both accounts.

“For some time now UK airports have seemingly been in the news for all the wrong reasons and that has been realised in this data”, said AirHelp CEO and co-founder Henrik Zillmer. “The UK is enviably positioned when it comes to physical movement of people globally, but this report needs to serve as a wake-up call when it comes to actual performance. Passengers are clearly not happy and while it will be a challenge to address the issues highlighted in this report, it is also an opportunity to halt the decline in performance and provide consumers with a better experience.”

Low cost given low score

The report found UK operators also performed poorly, specifically the low-cost airlines. easyJet was the lowest ranked airline of the UK-based carriers (#69/72), based largely on its poor claims handling score (1.13/10), while Ryanair fared only marginally better coming in at two places higher (#67/72). Jet2 completed the hat-trick, although did find itself marginally outside the bottom 10 carriers in the world (#61/72). Thomas Cook found itself just outside the bottom 20 (#51/72)

It was better news for Virgin Airlines, which is the highest ranked carrier and was listed #10 in the world, with largely positive scores across the board. Flybe also featured highly (#14), although was let down by a poor mark in the ‘quality of service category’. The UK national carrier, British Airways, was ranked #21. In a double for Qatar, its national carrier was ranked number one globally, with high positive scores in every category.

“This is a double-whammy for UK consumers so it’s little surprise they’re feeling frustrated”, continued Zillmer. “They’re moving from a poorly performing airport to an equally underachieving airline and something needs to be done. Of course, things go wrong – and consumers understand this – but it’s how these companies recognise and handle the unexpected that is remembered, particularly when it comes to claims processing as disgruntled passengers understandably want what they are rightly owed.”

Zillmer continued, “The 2018 AirHelp Score shows that as competition stiffens between airlines those that put passengers first will come out the winners in the long run. For too long airlines have focused on cutting corners and costs without regard to the people they serve. We’re thrilled to see a positive shift in many airlines who are now putting passengers first, and when things do go wrong these airlines are holding themselves accountable by executing the rightfully owed claims quickly and without hassle. We congratulate Qatar Airways who consistently puts customers first and has maintained its place in the top three since 2015 and is back at #1 this year. We hope more airlines take note of what these impressive competitors are doing and ensure their on-time performance improves this year.”

The 2018 AirHelp Score marks the company’s sixth report since it began evaluations in 2015. AirHelp developed this annual report to combine expert knowledge and industry expertise to give air passengers all the information they need to informatively book a flight and feel confident in their choices. To view AirHelp Score in full please visit here for the airlines’ ranking and here for the airports’ ranking.

Air passengers who have experienced a delayed or cancelled flight can check their eligibility for compensation on the go, and make a claim in a matter of minutes through the free AirHelp mobile app, available for iOS and Android. Also, using AirHelp’s new tool, travelers can check flights’ compensation eligibility automatically for past and future flights.


About AirHelp

Since launching in 2013, AirHelp has helped more than five million people process airline compensation claims worth almost 300 million euros in total reimbursement. AirHelp has offices across the world, is available in 30 countries, offers support in 16 languages, and employs more than 500 employees globally.