China acts to reduce flight delays

Beijing Capital International Airport, Picture courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Beijing Capital International Airport,
Picture courtesy Wikipedia Commons

A recent survey by US-based FlightStats ranked Beijing and Shanghai at the bottom of 35 international airports with the worst record for on-time arrivals and departures. Apparently, according to South China Post, none of China’s provincial airports could manage to get half of their flights on time.

Chinese travellers are not taking all this passively. In response, the Chinese government announced that a six-month crackdown would be launched to improve the performance, complete with penalties for the culprit –whether an airline, the airport or some other party. Airlines found responsible for delays may also lose their slots.

There are more than 180 commercial airports in China and another 80 are being constructed. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has issued Air Operator Certificate to more than 30 airlines.

China’s straightforward ruling may prove to be more effective than the soft approach adopted by many authorities around the world. It goes directly to the parties concerned, and while travellers may not receive compensation from the fines levied by the authorities, they will benefit from improved performance overall. However, defining responsibility may be an issue especially where there are possible areas of conflict. Apparently, CAAC controls the order of take-offs and landings while the Military controls the airspace.

In the European Union (EU), USA and Canada, the focus is more on compensation for travellers who have been unnecessarily inconvenienced by flight delays. The EU has taken several airlines to task for that, but unfortunately the process is tedious, complicated by vague definitions of terms.

Ultimately, it is the same end – whatever the means, but a question of how to make it work more effectively. In six months’ time, we will know if Chinese airlines, airports and other related agencies heed their government’s behest.


About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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