Delays at Europe's leading airports are getting worse, according to figures released this morning.
The Association of European Airlines (AEA) revealed that delays during the second three months of 2006 worsened for the seventh consecutive quarter.
Overall, 20.2 per cent of intra-European departures were delayed by more than 15 minutes, the AEA punctuality performance update showed.
During the same period last year, 18.1 per cent of flights to and from European airports encountered delays of 15 minutes or more.
London's main airports, Gatwick and Heathrow, both had delay rates above 25 per cent, but the worst-performing airport was Madrid.
For the second quarter running, departures from the Spanish capital's hub faced the highest rate of delay with 28.7 per cent of flights affected.
Brussels had the lowest rate of delay with just 13 per cent of departures being held up, followed by Geneva, Istanbul, Helsinki and Geneva.
The AEA also revealed this morning that its members experienced one of the lowest rates of passenger growth for more than 12 months in July.
Traffic increased by just 4.3 per cent as flights to the Middle East fell sharply in response to the conflict in Lebanon.
The airline group also said that it expected the disruption caused by the foiled bomb plot at London airports last month to hit August's figures, although initial indications were that the industry had avoided "widespread traffic losses".