China’s airports and airlines lead the world in flight delays: US survey
Mainland facilities and carriers lag far behind the international competition as management fails to keep up with the demand for travel
Chinese airports and airlines were the worst in the world for being on time last year, according to a US-based company that tracks air travel around the globe.
Among the world's 61 largest airports, the seven worst performers for on-time departures were all mainland airports, with Hangzhou's Xiaoshan, Shanghai's Hongqiao and Shanghai's Pudong facilities taking the bottom three spots, according to FlightStats, a US-based data provider on air travel.
Just 37.74 per cent of flights left on time from Xiaoshan, 37.17 per cent from Hongqiao and 37.26 per cent from Pudong.
Those three were closely followed in the survey by Shenzhen Baoan, Guangzhou Baiyun, Chongqing Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport.
Out of the world's largest 61 airports, Japan's Haneda Airport was the best with an on-time rate of 89.76 per cent. The best performer among the 374 world airports of all sizes looked at by FlightStats was another Japanese airport, Itami, with an on-time rate of 94.56 per cent.
Zou Jianjun, from the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China, said management of China's facilities had not kept up with demand and the network was concentrated in a few areas.
"Flight lines are too centralised in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and it's a big challenge for their managers," he said. "Even if a small mistake happens at any of these major airports, it's quite possible that flights in other cities will be affected."
The results were no better within the region, with Chinese airports languishing in the bottom half of the 121 Asia -Pacific facilities of all sizes examined last year. Hong Kong International Airport also slipped, down from No22 in the region in January 2013 to 80th last year.
There were no mainland or Hong Kong airlines in the world's top 10 for on-time arrivals last year, FlightStats said. The world leader was KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which had 88.66 per cent of its flights arrive on time.
The results reflect the all-too-common experience of cancelled or delayed flights at mainland airports, experts said.
Zhang Wuan, spokesman for Shanghai-based budget carrier Spring Airlines, said the poor showing by mainland airlines and airports was the result of the rapid growth in civil aviation.
About 390 million passengers took flights on the mainland in 2014, double the total for 2009, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
The Civil Aviation Data Analysis website said that about 65 per cent of mainland flights left on time last year.
The website said that if all the extra time that passengers and crew spent waiting on the tarmac for flights to take off on the mainland in 2014 was added up, it would amount to about 232 years.
Even notified flight delays added up to about 183 years, it said.
Poor management at airports and carriers was compounded by bad weather last month during the peak Lunar New Year travel season, a traditional time for family reunions.
FlightStats said there were 92,839 delays by mainland airlines compared with 32,428 delays by carriers in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.
Most mainland airlines' on-time arrival rates were about 50 per cent last month, with Shenzhen Airlines recording a rate of as low as 37.4 per cent and an average delay of 64 minutes. Xiamen Airlines was even worse with 33.82 per cent on-time arrival rate and an average delay of 70 minutes.