The crisis hit a breaking point this summer, the worst time of year for delays because of the rainy season. Stung by a flurry of bad publicity, civil aviation authorities on July 18 enacted a policy known as "unlimited takeoff," which lets planes from the busiest airports take off regardless of whether a landing strip is available. Aviation authorities have also threatened airlines with penalties and loss of routes if they incur excessive delays.
The result is that airlines tend to hustle passengers into planes that then pull away from the gate, making it look like the flight is on time. The passengers end up strapped in their seats on the tarmac waiting for a runway -- or in flight, circling an airport, wasting fuel and polluting the environment.
The Air China flight from Xian last month, already delayed nearly two hours in boarding and taxiing on the tarmac, landed in Taiyuan rather than Beijing. A thunderstorm was the cause, passengers were told.
After an hour on the runway in the coal-mining capital, the flight to Beijing was canceled and passengers placed for the night in shared rooms in a guest house run by the provincial water authority.
Many, no longer trusting Air China, took a train for the remaining 300-mile journey and arrived in Beijing at 3 p.m. Those who gambled, waiting for a plane, did only slightly better, making it to Beijing at 1:30 p.m., roughly 18 hours after checking in for what was supposed to be a less-than-two-hour flight.
-- May 06--BEIJING -- Problems that originate with airline companies are the main reason for delayed flights in China, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the authority that...
China's aviation industry is set for its fastest rate of growth ever.
Country spends billions to build facilities at a whirlwind pace.
Thirty years ago, Alfred Kahn, then-head of the Civil Aeronautics Board in the Carter administration, gave a speech to an industry conference in which he made this analogy: Suppose...