[photopress:air_hongqiao_airport.jpg,full,alignright]The China Daily – so you can take it as official – reports China has ordered domestic airlines to reduce delays and improve service around August’s Beijing Olympics or face penalties.
Among other possible penalties one that could really hurt is that airlines that fail to improve performance could be barred from expanding services for two years. Scrutiny will be intensified from July to September nd airlines have fair warning of what is expected.
It is, in truth, asking an awful lot.
China’s airlines and airports have struggled with soaring demand for passenger and cargo services amid the country’s economic boom. Despite increases in airline fleets and new airports, air traffic corridors have become clogged around major cities and hubs.
The situation is not helped by the fact that total control of the air rests with the PLA which, perhaps understandably, has a tendency to regard the skies as being an arena in which they allow domestic airlines to operate. And sometimes, quite arbitarily, can withdraw that permission for a period of time which can range from minutes to even more than a day.
Then there are the airports.
Beijing’s overcrowded airport, the world’s 9th busiest, will open a new US$4.6 billion terminal and runway this year to cope with the demand. And, in truth, it will only just be enough for the Olympics.
The Civil Aviation Administration has ordered airlines to stop overbooking flights and keep one or two planes on standby at six key airports in case of delays. Which means, practically be definition, that the airlines are going have to turn customers away. Which will be very difficult.
To make it even more difficult the aviation regulator has also extended a penalty measure introduced last year allowing it to cancel flights that are regularly delayed.
It looks like being a difficult summer for the airlines.
Source: Canadian Press