Luggage in an airport trolley

The Eurocontrol Agency monitors all air traffic delays at the Central Flow Management Unit which handles around 28 000 flights per day and has the responsibility of optimising air traffic management capacity.

Eurocontrol’s Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA) breaks down airport delay responsibilities as follows:

1. Airport authority
2. Aircraft operator
3. Passenger
4. Unattributed

Airport authority

Delays due to airport authority are mostly as a result of mismanagement such as a lack of security to handle passenger numbers.

Aircraft operator

Aircraft operator’s responsibility lies with the aircraft itself, its maintenance and flight preparation which can all affect departure time.


Passenger’s responsibility amounts to missing luggage as well as missing or delayed passenger. Sometimes, passengers lead a mutiny on board the aircraft which may result in grounding. This happened in Spain recently on board a Ryanair aircraft over an argument about excessive baggage fees.

Unattributed responsibility

The last unattributed responsibilities are those which cannot be passed on to any body, for example adverse weather conditions. While it is the airport authority’s duty to de-ice the runway and clear snow, sometimes it may not be economically feasible to prepare for weather conditions that may happen once every hundred years. In this case, it is best to close the airport. Strong crosswinds are another example where nothing can be done.

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