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September 7, 2013

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Flight punctuality rates improving

PASSENGERS flying between Shanghai and Beijing have faced fewer delays since airspace was freed up over the capital late last month, the local air traffic authority said yesterday.

Punctuality rates improved 4 percent to around 80 percent, said the Air Traffic Control Bureau, under the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The routes between Shanghai’s Hongqiao and Pudong airports and Beijing Capital International Airport are the busiest in China.

Since last Wednesday, some 60 flights that would normally pass over Beijing each day are being rerouted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China to avoid the capital’s airspace.

This is aimed at easing pressure on Beijing’s airport which deals with 1,200 flights a day.

However, the change of routes has also impacted fuel consumption, with diverted jets requiring 10 percent more.

If effective in Beijing, the policy may be rolled out in other Chinese cities, including Shanghai, the bureau said.

This is not the only recent effort to improve punctuality.

In a trial since July 18, eight major Chinese airports — including Shanghai’s and Beijing’s — have been made free of all air traffic restrictions for take-offs before 10am.

Air traffic restrictions, often due to military exercises or if destination airports are simply too busy, are major causes of flight delays in China.

A fortnight later, a survey found the punctuality rates at Shanghai’s two airports had surged by around 30 percent.

According to aviation service provider Veryzhun, punctuality at the Pudong airport improved by about 36 percent, while the Hongqiao airport reported a jump of 30 percent between July 18 and 30, compared with July 1 to 17.

However, aircraft coming in to land still face delays, stacking up and circling until given a landing slot.

“Most aircraft can take off on time, but the waiting has just moved from the ground to the sky that has only increased the consumption of fuel and carbon emissions,” said Zhou Jisheng, a senior civil aviation analyst.

Critics also claim that the policy will see neighboring airports hit by more flight delays, as the eight airports in the trial receive priority over them.


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