Seven million airline passengers are wasting almost 1,000 years in additional travel time and £182million between them by choosing to fly out of the main London airports instead of their local airport, a study reveals today.

Holidaymakers flying to European leisure destinations are wasting the most time and money, the analysis of official figures shows.

Each passenger is £27 worse off in terms of lost time and travel costs per trip over the past four years, the analysis by York Aviation consultancy for Bristol Airport found. Last year alone, leisure passengers wasted £101million and business passengers £82m. The average holidaymaker lost £17 each per trip compared with £67 extra for each business passenger.

The number of passengers from the South West and South Wales flying out of London airports has risen by almost 20% over the past four years to seven million in 2015. Those passengers endured an additional 512 million minutes, or 974 years, 45 days, 13 hours and 20 minutes of extra travel time on the motorways and railways.

Applying official guidelines for transport appraisals, the researchers calculated that this lost time and extra travel equated to £182m worth of additional cost in 2015. Most of the ‘leakage’ from the South West and South Wales to London was for short-haul travel - 3.8 million short-haul passengers and 3.1 million long-haul passengers. Passengers flying from Heathrow lost £100m, those traveling from Gatwick incurred £54m extra costs, Stansted £19m and Luton £10m.

More than 2.7 million people chose to fly from London to destinations served by Bristol Airport, wasting 200 million minutes and £72m in lost time and money. Bristol Airport is calling for improvements to road and rail links to the main airport serving the South West and South Wales. The airport is the only Top 10 UK airport without a rail link or dual carriageway access. It has invested £150m in new facilities since 2010 and was the most punctual airport in the world last year.

Robert Sinclair, the airport's CEO, said: “We are well placed to play our part in solving the country’s airport capacity crisis, and save travellers hundreds of millions in lost time. With the third runway at Heathrow still several years away, it makes little sense to continue funnelling passengers from other regions to airports in the South East. “With better road and rail links, we could take the pressure off Heathrow and Gatwick and keep business connected and holidaymakers flying.”

Image Source: Josef Hanus, Shutterstock

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