Beijing Capital Airport, the busiest airport on the mainland, will trim eight flights a day, or 584 scheduled flights over the next 21/2 months, for fear that more thunderstorms than expected will cause massive delays and chaos.
The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) will cut eight daily flights operated by Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines, starting from Saturday until September 25.
The airlines will need to inform passengers who have booked tickets on these flights about the cancellations, offer refunds and make other appropriate arrangements, according to the CAAC.
Charter flights and other unscheduled flights to Beijing Capital Airport operated by international and domestic airlines will also be restricted by the airport's temporary measure.
'The airport currently moves one aircraft every minute, so any delay caused by thunderstorms would lead to a disastrous domino effect,' said a CAAC spokesman.
Flight schedules at Beijing Capital Airport were affected by thunderstorms for 21 days of 30 days last month, according to the administration.
The spokesman said the new measures would ease but not eliminate the chance of flight delays during bad weather.
Beijing Capital Airport handles 1,000 flights a day, accounting for 25 per cent of domestic and international flights on the mainland. About 81.7 per cent of the flights it handles are on time.
'The effect [of Beijing's new measures] on us will be minimal since we can reshuffle the flights to other routes,' said a spokesman for Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines said.
The affected flights are scheduled between 5pm and 8pm, the hours when thunderstorms usually hit the capital.
The affected services will include flights to Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao and Haikou.
Airport to cancel 584 flights
over 21/2-month period
Cuts will affect Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan
Services to Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Haikou reduced