China has built some of the best airports in the world – all huge, spacious, clean, modern and equipped with latest technology. It has opened almost 10 new airports around the country every year. And it holds the ubiquitous reputation of being the world leader when it comes to flight delays.
Of the world’s 100 busiest airports, the seven that suffer the longest delays are all in China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. At the 13 Chinese airports that rank among the world’s top 100, flights are delayed by 43 minutes on average v/s global norm of 27 minutes. The other three which give tough competition to China in delays are all around New York: JFK, LaGuardia and Newark.
One of the biggest reasons cited is extreme safety measures. World over, intervals between flights (whether taking off or landing) have been compressed to as little as 30 seconds but in China, it is over two minutes, even when there is a backlog of planes. Caution is great, even if it is at the cost of flight delay as China has reported no major accident over past five years.
Another reason is that the military controls 75% of the airspace in China and when they need to take off, civilian flights are simply shunted off; sometimes commercial planes are made to wait for hours on the runway. Lack of integration between military and civilian flights is the culprit.
Having swanky airports is one thing but the main purpose of the airport is to enable a passenger to fly from one point to another within a stipulated time. When that itself is in doubt, however sleek the airport, it will bite.