Monday, 29 July 2013

Just Don't Blame the Military

Blame management, not the military for flight delays
It was recently revealed that some mainland airports, particularly Beijing and Shanghai, have the world's worst record for delays.

According to statistics from FlightStats, a US-based website with flight and airport information, mainland airports accounted for the top seven in terms of flight cancellations, and for the top eight in delays, among all departure airports in Asia and the Pacific region in the past month.

Beijing Capital International Airport has the distinction of recording delays or cancellations for more than 16,000 flights arriving at the airport, and about 20,000 departing in the past three years.

The statistics are staggering, but we all know it's because the Chinese military claim the airspace as theirs and commercial airlines must wait before they can get the clear to use it. Also, once there's fog or snow or heavy rain, many Chinese pilots have no clue how to deal with these severe weather conditions.

In any event, instead of naming the military for causing many of the delays and cancellations, the government prefers management to take 42 percent of the blame, air traffic control measures 26 percent, bad weather 21 percent and military restrictions 7 percent.

The report also said civilian aviation uses 34 percent of the mainland skies, while the military uses 25 percent. Apparently no flights are allowed in the remaining 41 percent.

What does that mean? Is 41 percent of Chinese airspace being underused? Or is this a state secret?

The authorities claim the increasing number of flights have put a strain on management and security at airports, while others say there aren't enough routes and airports.

Does China really need more airports? The country seems to be running at overcapacity at just about everything. They don't even have enough qualified pilots to fly planes. And every time I go through security in Beijing Capital International Airport, it's a breeze...

It's just amusing to see China trying to spin the story. Some of the delays and cancellations can be attributed to poor management, but really, military restrictions should be taking a bigger piece of the blame pie.

Until the military changes its mind on its control over China's airspace, delays and cancellations will continue, along with violent meltdowns and tens of thousands of passengers questioning if the civil aviation industry can really cope with ever-increasing demand.

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