China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) has said that almost half of its flights in July were delayed due to inclement weather and “airspace activities.”

The CAAC said at a press conference on Tuesday that 50.76 per cent of mainland flights in July departed on time. The government body attributed 58.6 per cent of flight delays to inclement weather conditions. The beginning of the summer season brought a stronger subtropical ridge than previous years, leading to heavy rainfall and typhoons, it said.

Increased scope and frequency of “airspace activities,” which had a particular impact on the Huabei, Huadong, and Zhongnan regions, were named as the reason for 25.99 per cent of flight delays.

An Air China plane. Photo: Wikicommons/lasta29.

The CAAC said that it monitored a total of 448,370 flights, or a daily average of 14,464 flights, in the month of July. The number of flights increased by 5.69 per cent from the previous month, and 8.02 per cent from the same period last year. It also said the number of flights on July 22 – 15,181- was a record high.

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Civil Aviation Administration of China headquarters. Photo: Wikicommons.

According to Flightstats’ 2015 ranking of 188 international airports for on-time departures, eight out of 10 of the least punctual airports were located in China.

A report on Chinese airports by flight data services company Variflight placed Beijing Capital International Airport last in terms of punctuality for the month of July. It found that only 29.84 per cent of flights departing from the airport were on time, and that 25.92 per cent of flights were delayed for more than two hours. The average delay for flights leaving the airport was 97.10 minutes.

Aviation experts said that the primary reason for flight delays in China is due to the fact that the military controls the country’s airspace, leaving little room for commercial flights, according to a 2016 BBC report.

Jun Pang

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.