Management problems were blamed yesterday for 42 per cent of delays to commercial flights on the mainland as public discontent about unreliability mounts.
Air traffic control measures accounted for 26 per cent of delays, bad weather about 21 per cent and military restrictions 7 per cent, China News Service said, quoting official figures.
The report also said that civil aviation utilises 34 per cent of mainland skies, while the military uses 25 per cent. No flights are reportedly allowed in the remaining 41 per cent of airspace.
It was recently revealed that some mainland airports, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai, had the world's worst record for delays. Authorities attributed it to a rapid growth in the number of flights in recent years.
They said this had put additional strain on management and security at airports.
In the past five years, the number of flights arriving and departing from Beijing Capital International Airport increased by nearly 29 per cent, and those out of Shanghai Pudong and Guangzhou Baiyun airports were up 36 and 33 per cent, respectively.
Wang Liang, executive deputy director of the Shanghai Circulation Economics Institute, said that poor management - not only by airline companies, but also airports and air traffic control (ATC) authorities - was mainly to blame for the massive flight delays on the mainland.
"Air traffic demand has ballooned, but management has lagged far behind," Wang said.
According to statistics from the Civil Aviation Administration, a quarter of flights were not on time last year.
Wang said ATC authorities should be more efficient in handling departures and other measures should be taken across the aviation industry to curb delays.
"Though quite a few airports have been built, there needs to be more feeder routes so pressure on the main routes can be eased," he suggested.
Wang Jiangmin , a staff member with the Beijing branch of China Southern Airlines, said limited resources had restricted the domestic development of civil aviation.
"There are not enough air routes and airports," he said.
According to statistics by FlightStats, a US-based website providing airport and flight 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, which has had the world's second-largest passenger throughput in the past three years, was far ahead of all other airports in the region by recording delays or cancellations for more than 16,000 flights arriving at the airport and for about 20,000 departing flights during the period.
An average of nearly 220,000 people travelled through the airport every day last year, said the China News Service report.