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Nearly half of all flight delays in Europe are actually "reactionary" or "knock-on" delays caused by previous late departures or arrivals, according to a new study.
The research by Eurocontrol, the European organisation for the safety of air navigation and RWTH Aachen University, showed that delays caused by the knock on effects of previous late flights account for more than 40% of all delayed flights in Europe.
Only 50% of primary delays are recovered during the subsequent flight.
The study also demonstrated that short delays tend to have longer knock-on effects than long delays - a short delay can cause three times as much delay to later flights.
In addition, flights delayed in the morning can have a worse knock on effect than flights starting in the afternoon, as there are more flights that can be affected.
But, the delays in the afternoon appear to be worse in terms of propagation, "which suggests that airline efforts to mitigate delay" are higher in the morning than the afternoon.
Hub and spoke carriers are able to recover quicker from delays than point to point and low-cost carriers, according to the study, as they "have a higher ability to absorb delay during the turn-around time".
The research is based on real-life data provided by more than 120 airlines.