China’s domestic carriers are maintaining their reputation for punctuality with a new government report revealing once again that about one-third of their flights are late.
That means that of the 3.37 million flights by domestic carriers in 2015, only about 68% were on time, according to an annual report released by China’s Civil Aviation Administration earlier this week. If that seems bad, at least it’s not getting worse, 68% of flights were on time in 2014 as well.
However, the report does find that delays are getting slightly longer with the average delay in 2015 amounting to 21 minutes, 2 minutes more than in 2014.
So who is to blame for those 23 odd million minutes lost? Well, the report finds that “air traffic control measures” are responsible for a whipping 30% of flight delays and bad weather for another 29%. Meanwhile, the airlines themselves were to blame for 19% of delays and the remaining 20% were chalked up to unspecified “other reasons.”
Other than explaining to passengers the difference between the emergency exit and toilet, what exactly can be done about all this? Well, it turns out that it’s mostly the PLA’s fault. China’s military keeps tight control of the country’s air space, meaning that there are too few routes for too many flights, a problem that will only get worse as China’s new mega airports open.
“The ultimate solution is to open more airspace to civil aviation,” Zeng Tao, an aviation industry observer in Beijing, told China Daily. “Other efforts made by air traffic management bureaus, airlines and airports have proved to have limited effects.”
And we shudder to think what will happen if something isn’t done soon. Hellish delays at airports around China have to led to nasty conflicts between impatient passengers and airline staff. In April, angry passengers at an airport in Changsha were filmed slapping and throwing food at an airline employee due to frustrations over a flight delay.
In a 2014 international survey, Chinese airports and airlines were rated dead last for punctuality. Among the world’s 61 largest airports, the seven worst performers for on-time departures were all in mainland China with our very own Shanghai Hongqiao and Pudong airports taking the bottom two spots.