Irate TV host calls for sacking of aviation chief
A well-known TV host in China has lashed out at the country’s civil aviation regulator, calling for its chief to resign and apologise for causing “extensive air flight delays that have affected tens of millions of passengers”.
“If [they] can not put themselves in someone else’s shoes, then they should step down from their posts, or they will never understand power derives from people,” said popular TV presenter Meng Fei on his verified microblog account on Sina Weibo.
Meng is one of the best-known TV hosts in China with over 32 million weibo followers. He established his popularity after hosting the dating show “Take Me Away” and co-hosting the quiz show “Fei De Will Watch”, which have both become viral in the past few years.
The celebrity’s comments were made in response to suggestions that civil aviation bureau officials should be forced to experience the long flight delays faced by ordinary passengers.
“I wouldn’t dare to challenge an official as senior as Li Jiaxiang if it wasn’t for the constant delays in recent years that have been driving me crazy,” Meng said in another post, referring to the chief of China’s Civil Aviation Administration.
Phone calls to the aviation administration by the South China Morning Post were not answered on Thursday.
Li has overseen the country’s civil aviation sector since the end of 2007. During this period, China has witnessed increasing public outrage about extensive flight delays.
According to a report released by the bureau in May, a total of about 630,000 flights were delayed in 2012, the highest in the past five years.
Meng blamed Li for the constant drop in the number of on-schedule flights since he took office, citing the report. Official figures showed that 74.83 per cent of the total approximately 2.5 million flights left on time in 2012, down from 82.65 per cent in 2008 when Li took office.
This means the delays have affected tens of millions of passengers considering official figures show that 319 million passengers travelled by air last year.
“Shouldn’t you bow and apologise to passengers and your own staff before you resign?” Meng said in a post.
Meng was not the only celebrity to criticise China’s civil aviation service recently. Separately, Chinese-born American mathematician Shing-Tung Yau complained about the poor service he experienced while in transit at Guangzhou airport last week.
“Inspecting 40 people’s passports took an hour and a half while a safety inspection of 25 people took another 30 minutes,” Yao told Guangzhou Daily on Sunday.
“If my next flight had not been delayed, I would definitely have been late due to Guangzhou airport’s sluggish service,” he was quoted as saying.
These comments highlight Chinese passengers’ increasing impatience towards flight delays, which have already fuelled several violent brawls between impatient passengers and airline staff.
A recent survey by FlightStats, a US-based airport statistics tracker, said Beijing and Shanghai airports had the worst records for on-time departures and arrivals among 35 major international airports.
Responding to mounting complaints, China’s aviation authorities earlier this month ordered commercial planes at eight major airports to take off on time – even if they had no landing slots at their destinations.
Critics have said the drastic move, which has been slammed as unsafe and impractical, could lead to planes having to circle airports for hours waiting for clearance to land.
A recent report by the China News Service said management problems were blamed for 42 per cent of delays to commercial flights and air traffic control measures accounted for 26 per cent.
It added that bad weather accounted for about 21 per cent of delays and military restrictions 7 per cent.