All aboard, but still grounded

Airlines which load passengers only to keep them waiting for hours on the tarmac before takeoff will come under increased scrutiny in the second half of the year, said civil aviation authorities.

At the same time, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) hopes the flight punctuality rate at Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) will improve from its current level of 76.76 to 80 percent.

Passengers are becoming increasingly disgruntled at delays, especially when they are herded onto aircraft, which then remain grounded for hours. In a July 5 report on, over 200 passengers co-signed a letter after refusing  to disembark a China Southern Airlines plane from Chengdu to Beijing. The flight was delayed 13 hours during which time passengers received no food or accommodation.

And according to an April 20 report, passengers on a BCIA to Shenzhen flight refused to accept 100-yuan ($15.46) compensation after a 4-hour wait because of mechanical problems. Operator Hainan Airlines had claimed it was a weather delay, for which they do not need to compensate.

The North China Regional Administration (NCRA) of the CAAC said in the first six months of 2011, 16.8 percent of flights at North China airports were delayed by bad weather, 33.6 percent were caused by the airline itself, and delays were 2.32 percent lower compared to the same period last year.

Pan Wanying, director of the transportation management office of NCRA, told the Global Times Monday that they will collect data from air traffic control and airports to monitor the time between the aircraft door closing and takeoff. Pan also noted that there are currently no standards from the CAAC stipulating how long the wait on the airplane is “too long.”

“Now, when there are large-scale delays, flights that are already delayed for over two hours are scheduled for takeoff first,” Pan said. “So far this year,” she added, “there have been few complaints from passengers about lateness.”

Liu Xuesong, director of the NCRA, told the Beijing News Monday, “when the airlines are aware there will be a long delay but still make passengers board, airlines and airports are liable to take the main responsibility when the passengers wait too long and threaten flight safety.”

Source: Global Times

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