Monday, 28 July 2014

Giving Air Travel a Bad Name

Imagine the chaos inside Beijing International Airport...
Last Wednesday there was a news story warning there would be major flight delays at 12 airports in China for two weeks supposedly because of PLA military exercises.

Airports affected included Shanghai, Nanjing, Qingdao, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Ningbo and Hefei.

This is because the PLA has controlled mainland airspace since 1949 and only allocates 20 percent of it to civil aviation. It has probably only been 20 percent for over six decades.

Compare that to the United States where commercial airlines occupy 90 percent of airspace, leaving only narrow corridors for the air force.

So as expected, over the weekend there was chaos at airports over the weekend, with 130 flights cancelled in Shanghai's two airports by 6pm yesterday [Sunday], while 519 flights were delayed.

Beijing International Airport saw 55 flights cancelled and 126 delayed. Xiamen was hit the hardest, with capacity down by 77 percent due to "busy airspace".

The reason for the delays is that the PLA is conducting live-fire drills in the waters off the east coast until August 15.

Military experts claim the drills are to signal to Japan and the US of China's military might, in marking the 120th anniversary of the Sino-Japanese war.

However, these military exercises -- seemingly selfish -- are severely affecting the booming aviation industry. One passenger complained that when he arrived at the airport for his 8.40am flight, it had been delayed to 1.30pm. "Why didn't they tell me in advance so that I didn't have to wake up so early?" he asked.

But in today's paper, China's Defense Ministry claims it's bad weather, not military drills to blame.

The ministry said in a statement yesterday that exercises that had been scheduled in the southeast coastal areas would begin tomorrow, and that weather had caused disruptions.

Uh huh.

Many passengers for commercial flights did not take these disruptions lying down. At Shenzhen's international airport, fights broke out between ground staff and frustrated passengers in a video clip taken by witnesses.

One female passenger explained that the confrontation came about after they had been waiting three hours to board a plane to Hangzhou. She and 30 others refused to board the plane, demanding compensation and a public apology from the airport.

But it's not the airport's fault -- it is really the PLA who decide when and where they will use the airspace without giving airports and airlines much time to deal with the situation.

It's not wonder the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is nicknamed "Chinese Airlines Always Cancel".

How do you shake that reputation off when the PLA is the one calling the shots?


  1. a) Chinese airspace will continue to be unavailable until mid-August (end of August?)
    b) Instead of complaining to the airlines, why not the f--king Communist Party? Why not overturn the P.O.S. Chinese gov't?
    c) You do realize that one mushroom cloud will shut the Chinese gov't up faster since they can't retailate.

    d) I personally have a very very low opinion of PRC Chinese gov't and their society in general.

    1. Hi nulle -- news reports say August 15... until further notice...