Airline flights are expected to be more punctual next year than they have been in 2017, with the goal for national flight punctuality set at no less than 75 percent in 2018.
“The civil aviation industry will focus on improving quality and efficiency to enhance the flight punctuality rate,” Feng Zhenglin, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said on Dec 27 in Beijing at the administration’s 2018 annual work conference.
The operational volume should be matched with support capabilities, encouraging airlines to adjust the scale and structure of fleets to enhance their flexibility. Airlines will be required to have backup capacity, Feng said.
“Under the premise of ensuring safety and to create space for airlines, airports and air control departments will optimize process flow and improve efficiency, to improve the flight punctuality rate,” Feng said.
For travelers, flight punctuality is a top priority. No one enjoys spending hours at an airport, no matter how fancy it might be.
However, flight punctuality can be unpredictable due to weather conditions. In July, the national flight punctuality rate dropped to about 50 percent because of a large number of extreme weather events affecting air traffic control.
The administration started to take action in August by controlling the number of flights based on the airport’s capacity, the air traffic control’s ability to handle an increased flight schedule and by making scientific operations standard to optimize performance.
The efforts have paid off. In October, 84 percent of flights were on time. The improvements continued into November, with an 85 percent on-time record, the best in 8 1/2 years.
Flight punctuality through the first 11 months stands at 71 percent.
Owing to the rapid development of China’s civil aviation industry, airspace resources for civil aviation have been in short supply.
With limited airspace and unpredictable weather systems, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has prioritized operations in recent years to improve punctuality.
The administration set a goal of handling 612 million passenger trips in 2018. This year, airports across China handled 549 million passenger trips.
The country’s airports handled an average 12,790 flights a day in 2016, up from 8,973 in 2012.
China’s civil aviation industry has been ranked the second-largest for 12 years, behind the United States.
Beijing Capital International Airport handled 94 million passenger trips in 2016, and has been ranked the world’s second-busiest airport for seven years, behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States.