Red alert for China flights as airports axe landings, restrict services during PLA exercises

Military's use of air space to cause substantial drop in traffic at Shanghai's international airports and ban on landings at eight others this afternoon

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 5:40pm

The first day of the PLA’s military exercises in the East China Sea prompted the highest red alert for flight delays in eastern provinces: eight airports will not allow landings this afternoon, and Shanghai’s two airports will see their capacity cut by 75 per cent, the mainland’s civilian air traffic authority warned.

Due to the military’s use of air space above Shanghai from 2pm to 6pm today, the air traffic capacity at Shanghai’s Hongqiao and Pudong international airports will fall by 75 per cent, and the capacity of air routes in Zhengzhou in Henan province will also drop by 75 per cent.

Eight airports in Linxi, Xuzhou, Lianyungang, Huaian, Yancheng, Changzhou, Yangzhou and Nantong will not receive landing flights during the four-hour period.

Some northbound flights from airports in Jiangxi, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces will not be able to take off, according to a notice on the website of the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s Air Traffic Management Bureau.

The mainland has seen massive flight delays and cancellations since the PLA started its live-fire drills on Friday. Over the weekend, more than 800 flights at airports in Beijing and Shanghai were delayed or cancelled.

The aviation administration has advised relevant airlines to cut the number of flights entering the areas under alert in order to ease the delays, Xinhua reported.

The Defence Ministry said over the weekend that the bad weather, instead of military drills, was to blame for the troubles.

The ministry promised to minimise the drills’ impact on civil aviation by opening up temporary routes, giving over some of its airspace to passenger flights and arranging detours in advance.

The weather forecast predicts Shanghai will remain cloudy today with mild southeast wind. No precipitation is expected.

Last night, China Eastern Airlines released its list of the more than 20 cancelled flights for today and tomorrow on Weibo..

A China Southern Airlines flight from Pudong airport to Dalian originally scheduled to take off at 6.40 pm has been cancelled, according to the latest update on the official weibo account of Shanghai Airport Authority.

The massive flight delay has made many travellers turn to trains as an alternative. With summer being the high season for travelling, it is hard to get a ticket for the high-speed train between Shanghai and Beijing, the Beijing Times reported.

By 3pm today, tickets of some train rides from Shanghai to Beijing had been sold out, and most remaining tickets were first-class one. Tickets for some trains leaving tomorrow are also sold out.

All the high-speed train tickets from Guangzhou to Shanghai for tomorrow are sold out, and only 27 tickets were left for Thursday.

Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said at least 12 flights between Hong Kong and Shanghai’s Pudong airport had been cancelled, and six were delayed.

Notices on the websites of the national and local maritime safety administrations said exercises would be carried out in the Bohai Sea for eight days from last Friday, in the East China Sea for five days from today and in the Gulf of Tonkin for seven days from last Saturday.

Military experts said the drills were intended to signal China’s tough stance towards Japan and its ally, the United States, in the region and were timed to coincide with the 120th anniversary of the first Sino-Japanese war.