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February 11, 2010

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Tardy airlines face a time-out

AIRLINES will be grounded if too many of their flights are late for avoidable reasons, China aviation authorities said yesterday.

If a flight is delayed more than four hours from an airline's errors, and the delay creates serious inconveniences, that route will be halted immediately - and also suspended from further operation for a flight season, the authorities warned.

That means an airline risks losing half a year's income on a particular route, because there are two flight seasons a year: winter-spring and summer-autumn.

It's a part of a nationwide campaign - which kicked off yesterday in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou and is to last through the end of the year - to reduce flight delays.

Regional civil-aviation administrations will be in charge.

"Flight service quality becomes much more important as flights increase," said Li Jiaxiang, head of the China Civil Aviation Administration.

The crackdown is aimed at delays that are airlines' and airport managers' fault: for inefficiently deploying aircraft, for instance, or slowdowns in ground services such as maintenance and fueling.

Air authorities said that more than 80 percent of the 1,200-plus daily flights at Shanghai's two airports now arrive and leave on schedule.

From now on, authorities said, if an airline's on-time performance for domestic flights drops below 50 percent over 15 days, the airline will get a warning.

A route will be suspended if the airline receives two such warnings about that route in a month.


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