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Photo: SAS

Flight delays skyrocket in Nordics and Europe

SAS is not the only airline struggling to keep to its timetables this summer, with Icelandair and Norwegian faring worse.

SAS has had a hard time keeping to its schedules this year, but it’s not the only one; the majority of the major airlines in Europe are struggling with punctuality.

Cancellations at SAS during July were up five times more than normal, Check-in reports, a trend that passengers have blamed on the numerous carriers subcontracted to operate some of its short-haul routes.

As many as 34% of all of more than 23,000 SAS flights in July were delayed for more than 15 minutes, according to new figures from, with the delays lasting 45.8 minutes on average.

With a punctuality of just 65.6%, SAS comes in 12th place among the 20 major European airlines providing data to

KLM performed best with an 87.4% timetable score in relation to 22,700 flights – though this reputation may be in danger if strikes take place, as has been threatened. Iberia follows with 79.5%, while Virgin Atlantic is third with 78.6%.

Among the wider Nordic region’s competitors, only Finnair performed better than SAS, achieving 76.1% punctuality in July. Norwegian landed a 66.9% punctuality rating based on around 20,000 flights.

Icelandair, which recently cut its earnings forecast, came off worst among the 23 European airlines in the survey, with as many as half of its approximately 3,200 flights delayed in July. There, the delay was 43.9 minutes on average.

Crowded air corridors and extreme weather conditions have been behind many of the delays in Europe’s air traffic. Data from airspace coordinator Eurocontrol shows an increase of 133% in the number of delays in the first half of 2018, amounting to 47,000 minutes per day.

These stats include many of the air traffic control strikes raging during the spring, but another major issue is the lack of capacity and large bottlenecks in several of the busier air corridors due to lack of staff and outdated systems – in particular over France, Italy, Greece, Germany and the UK.

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