Caixin
May 22, 2018 06:45 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

China’s Average Flight Delay Soars 50% to 24 Minutes in 2017

The terminal at Kunming Changshui International Airport in Kunming, Yunnan province, is seen in August 2013. Photo: VCG
The terminal at Kunming Changshui International Airport in Kunming, Yunnan province, is seen in August 2013. Photo: VCG

* Air China has lowest punctuality rate of any of the world’s 20 largest airlines by flight numbers

* Chinese airlines’ punctuality is expected to improve this year as country continues to impose departure limits at Beijing, Shanghai airports

(Beijing) — Flights in the world’s second-largest air travel market were delayed by an average of 24 minutes last year, a year-on-year increase of eight minutes, with the Chinese aviation watchdog arguing bad weather was the main culprit.

Last year, 71.68% of flights leaving Chinese airports — 2,895,000 out of 4,039,000 — departed on time, a 5.09% decrease from the year before, according to data (link in Chinese) released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on Monday.

The CAAC attributed around half of the delays to bad weather conditions and 7.7% to air traffic control problems.

Demand for air travel has grown rapidly in China in the last few years, and the nation is likely to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest market by passenger numbers by 2022, according to the International Air Transportation Association.

But delays have long been a problem, causing headaches for passengers and airlines.

Air China, the country’s largest airline, had the lowest punctuality rate of any of the world’s 20 largest airlines by flight numbers, with a punctuality rate of only 60.14% in 2017, according to OAG, a U.K.-based air travel data company. This is compared with Japan Airlines’ rate of 85.27% and the U.S.-based United Airlines’ rate of 79.86%.

China Eastern and China Southern ranked 19th and 18th on the list respectively, with on-time rates of 61.8% and 64.19% for the year. The three state-owned Chinese airlines account for 70% of the nation’s air market.

However, Chinese airlines’ punctuality is expected to improve this year as China continues to impose departure limits on two of the nation’s busiest airports to improve their on-time departure rates.

According to a CAAC plan implemented in October, Beijing Capital International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport are to reduce the number of departures to 75% of their current capacities.

The policy had an immediate impact, with the national on-time departure rate hitting record levels of 84.59% and 88% in November and December, according to the CAAC.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

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