A survey ranking Thomas Cook, easyJet and Ryanair as among the world’s worst performing airlines has been slammed as “self-serving”.

Passenger compensation claims firm AirHelp ranked Thomas Cook at the bottom of a global ranking of 72 carriers – dropping 21 places from its position last year.

This placed it in the lowest five airlines in the world for claims processing and on-time-performance.

EasyJet, named as the second worst performing in the world, faired just below average for on-time-performance but ranked third lowest out of the 72 airlines in the report for claims handling.

Ryanair was ranked as the fifth lowest performing airline, let down, particularly by its claims processing score, Air Help claimed.

However, Flybe gained three positions on 2018’s report as the 11th highest performing airline in the world and highest in the UK. The regional carrier, recently taken over by the Virgin Atlantic-Stobart Group Connect airways consortium, scored above average for its claims processing and on time performance.

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways both scored above average while Qatar Airways was rated best in the world.

AirHelp said it assessed more 40,000 people across 40 countries to determine service quality scores and analysed all airlines on claims processing.

Co-founder Henrik Zillmer said the results “must serve as a wake-up call to the UK’s aviation industry, which is continually failing those that matter the most – the passengers”.

He added: “It’s crystal clear that more needs to be done to adapt to ever-changing demands, whether it’s airports adding and extending runways to cope with the influx, to airlines focussing on the industry-wide lack of pilots and often poor cabin-crew conditions.

“Action is needed and it is needed now to ensure passengers are not the innocent casualties of the UK’s floundering aviation industry.”

But industry body Airlines UK said: “This so-called report is highly misleading and self-serving.

“UK airlines operate in a highly competitive market place and need to provide good customer service to attract and keep passengers. They do not need lectures from ambulance chasing claims management companies.

“When things do go wrong most complaints are dealt with quickly and amicably without passengers having to fork out 25% of any compensation to third parties.”

An easyJet spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “These figures are wrong. In 2018 more than 91% of easyJet flights arrived within an hour of their scheduled time and, we have a continuous focus on punctuality and customer care as we know it is important to our passengers.

“Over the course of the year air traffic control capacity and staff shortages were responsible for more than 75% of all delays across Europe with 30 days of air traffic control strike action impacting customers – all outside of airlines’ control.

“Airhelp is a claims agency taking significant amounts of compensation from customers who could receive the entire amount by claiming with the airlines directly. We take our responsibilities under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 extremely seriously and always pay compensation when it is due.”

A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: “This report lacks merit, and comes from a claims management company that profits from compensation that should belong to its customers.

“When customers come to us with flight delay claims, we pay promptly, directly and in full.”