Air China

Aviation chief promises end of cancelled flights, delays

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2008, 12:00am

China's newly appointed aviation chief vowed yesterday to end frequent delays and cancellations by mainland airlines and threatened penalties for airlines and airports which failed to meet standards.

Li Jiaxiang , who recently replaced Yang Yuanyuan as head of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, announced eight measures at a national conference to 'cure the industry's ills'.

The eight measures, which put special emphasis on improved services during the Olympic Games period, require airlines to ensure much higher standards of punctuality and customer service.

Airlines and airports would lose their qualification to be rated as 'distinguished companies' for two years if they cause long delays and subsequent 'serious social incidents', Xinhua said.

The report also said in that July, August and September, the least punctual flights at the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou airports could lose their time slots on the schedule.

In summer and autumn, the Beijing airport will not be allowed to schedule more than 1,350 flights each day and other Olympic-related airports will also be required to allow at least a 15 per cent reserve capacity to ensure sufficient air traffic support for the Games.

Xinhua also said the aviation watchdog would take the performance of airports and airlines during the Olympic months into consideration in year-end appraisals.

The measures also restrict airlines from overbooking - a common practice among mainland airlines. Without providing details, Xinhua said airlines based in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou must ensure at least one to two 'spare flights' will be available.

In addition, for delays of more than three hours and cancellations, local aviation authorities will be empowered to overrule the airlines and transfer affected passengers to another airline, with the cost to be fully borne by the original airline.

Another measure stipulates that airlines and airports must exercise 'all weather' monitoring over passengers' luggage and cargo to minimise losses and thefts.

The aviation watchdog also requires industry association to step up supervision over their members and said sales agents who were found to have infringed on customers' rights would be disqualified.

According to Xinhua, the CAAC said it would not accept applications from airlines which failed to meet the punctuality requirements and could not meet the sales and other service requirements to expand their business or set up new branches.

Mainland airlines' poor service has been much faulted by frequent travellers, who often complain of sudden cancellations and long delays at airports.

Stories abound of passengers being stranded airports for hours and airlines rarely share flight information with their customers even after long delays.

Xinhua reported yesterday that Mr Yang had been made a vice-director of the State Administration of Work Safety. He will retain his full ministerial rank.

China's civil aviation industry reaped 17 billion yuan in profits in the first 11 months of last year, up 74 percent year-on-year, the CAAC said.

Of the total profits, airlines and airports contributed 11.3 billion yuan and 3.9 billion yuan, up 104 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively, Mr Li said.