China's air traffic hit by military war games

Written by PTI | Beijing | Updated: Jul 27 2014, 22:03pm hrs
China's upcoming military exercises in its southeast coastal areas and live firing drills in the East China Sea have led to fears of massive flight delays as hundreds of people's travel plans were hit.

The war games in south east China beginning on July 29 is part of the Chinese armed forces' routine training, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement today.

The drills are important for testing combat capability and improving real-combat training levels and military preparation, it said.

Both military and civil aviation management authorities have taken measures to minimise the exercises' impact on civil flights by opening temporary air routes, allocating protection airspace, and setting down alternative deviation plans, it said in a statement.

Military exercises only have a limited impact on civil aviation, it said, adding that they are not the major factor behind recent flight delays, which were mainly the result of meteorological conditions.

The armed forces have been taking measures to cut military activities' influence on civil aviation in recent years and will continue to do so in the future, a state-run Xinhua news agency report said.

Today's statement followed yesterday's announcement of plans to conduct a series of live fire training drills for five days next week in East China Sea where it is locked in a bitter maritime dispute with Japan even as air traffic at Chinese airports went haywire due to ongoing air exercises.

The series of drills will be held from July 29 to August 2, the Maritime Safety Administration said in a statement.

The administration warned ships to stay clear of the region and told authorities to ensure safety during the training, which is scheduled to last from midnight to 6 pm each day.

The exercises hit hundreds of air travellers in eastern provinces with massive delays, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported today.

The civil aviation regulator issued an orange alert - the second highest in a four-tier system, early yesterday morning for 23 airports, including those in Shanghai, Nanjing, Nanchang, Hefei, Zhengzhou and Wenzhou.

An orange alert indicates that between 50 and 90 flights would either be cancelled or delayed for more than an hour.

Before the warning was lifted at 5 pm, 85 flights were cancelled at Pudong and Hongqiao airports in Shanghai, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.

Meanwhile, China's major airlines today announced adjustments or cancellations of a "few" flights after severe weather and air traffic controls caused massive delays in eastern and central China.

China Eastern Airlines said some flights in Nanjing and Shanghai are likely to be delayed or canceled in the next few days.

China Southern Airlines said flights from Shanghai to Xiamen, Fuzhou, Taiwan and some central and southern regions are likely to be affected today, with the capacity of some airways in Shanghai dropping by 30 per cent.

China's airline regulator has issued an orange alert for massive flight delays in eastern and central regions due to "rainstorms, routine military exercises and other comprehensive factors.