Tens of Thousands of Flights Delayed in China Due to Military Exercises
Officials are warning that flights to and from airports in eastern China will face considerable delay or cancellation over the next few weeks, although the delays have already begun in earnest.
China’s Xinhua news agency said on Sunday that the Ministry of Defense announced plans to conduct military exercises in southeast coastal areas starting July 29.
The flight delays as well as the military exercises apparently started last week, however. Xinhua said that recent delays were due to “meteorological conditions” and that the military exercises will have a “limited impact” on civil aviation.
Twelve airports in the region will be impacted, including Shanghai Hongqiao, Shanghai Pudong, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Hefei, Jinan, Wuxi, Ningbo, Qingdao, Lianyungang, Zhengzhou, and Wuhan.
The Ministry of Defense explained the maneuvers as “important for testing combat capability and improving real-combat training levels and military preparation.”
Last week, CCTV, China’s main state television broadcaster, posted excerpts from a widely-circulated statement attributing the delay to a request to airlines to reduce flying by 25% in the region. The post promised “massive delays for 26 days” and advised travelers to “bring snacks and water.”
The delays are expected to continue through August 15. The CAAC said it will try to mitigate the issue by setting up temporary air routes and allowing airlines to change their flight plans, according to a statement issued on its website.
On Sunday at 10:30 p.m. in Shanghai, over 1,000 flights had been delayed at the city’s two airports and over 120 flights were cancelled, according to FlightStats, a flight tracking service. On Saturday, there were over 1,300 delays and over 170 cancellations. Over 500 flights were delayed in and out of Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday and over 40 had been cancelled outright. The total number of delays and cancellations in eastern China to date are in the tens of thousands.
Many flights from Hong Kong to Shanghai were not even showing a departure time.
Flights to and from other regions of China are not expected to be impacted by the military exercises.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)