Residents living under Heathrow’s flight paths are being kept awake until after midnight by an increase in late running night flights due to disruption across the aviation sector.

The west London airport apologised to people suffering “greater disturbance” as more aircraft are arriving and departing later than planned.

Heathrow does not have any scheduled departures between 10.50pm and 6am, or scheduled arrivals between 10.55pm and 4.40am, but take-offs and landings occur within those periods when planes are delayed.

Flight punctuality has plummeted in recent months as airlines and airports struggle to cope with the spike in demand for travel.

On Saturday night three aircraft arrived at Heathrow after midnight.

The latest was a British Airways flight from Kalamata, Greece which touched down at 12.31am, more than two hours behind schedule.

Overflown residents were given little respite, as the first flight scheduled for Sunday morning arrived at 4.33am.

A 49-year-old woman who did not want to be named said her sleep has been severely disrupted as departing low-altitude aircraft have “a huge impact on those of us that are now directly under a flight path”.

The woman, who lives in Sunningdale, Berkshire, 10 miles from Heathrow, told the PA news agency: “Constant delayed late evening flights make it impossible to sleep before midnight.

“I generally go to bed much later now. It has definitely got worse in the last three months.

“There is no consideration and no effort from the airlines to get aircraft higher when there is less traffic in the sky.

“My fear is if the Government give the go ahead for night flights on a temporary basis throughout the summer it may become the norm, which would just be unbearable.”

John Stewart, who chairs anti-aircraft noise group Hacan, said Heathrow reduced the number of late night flights but “it is now slipping back because of the chaos during the day”.

He added: “Residents across a very wide area are paying the price for this.”

Heathrow said in a statement: “We apologise for the recent increase in late running flights, which mean that our local communities are facing greater disturbance.

“We understand the impact of night noise and we are continuing to take action wherever possible to improve our operational performance.

“Unfortunately, a combination of closed or restricted airspace and resourcing pressures within the wider aviation community means we face an exceptionally challenging summer season.

“Heathrow has made significant progress over time in tackling late runners and we remain committed to that in the longer term.”