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China military drills: 200 flights cancelled, red alert issued

PTI Beijing | Updated on July 29, 2014

More than 200 flights were cancelled in China today owing to busy airspace on the first day of the Chinese military’s live fire exercises in the East China Sea, prompting aviation authorities to declare a red alert.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) warned that eight airports will not allow landings and Shanghai’s two airports will see their capacity down to 25 per cent.

Due to the military’s use of air space above Shanghai from 2pm to 6pm today, the air traffic capacity at Shanghai’s Hongqiao and Pudong international airports will fall by 75 per cent, and the capacity of air routes in Zhengzhou in Henan province will also drop by 75 per cent, Hong Kong—based South China Morning Post reported.

State-run CCTV reported over 200 flights have been cancelled.

According to the national and local maritime safety administrations, exercises would be carried out in the Bohai Sea for eight days from last Friday, in the East China Sea for five days from today and in the Gulf of Tonkin for seven days from last Saturday.

Military experts said the drills were intended to signal China’s tough stance towards Japan and its ally, the United States, in the region and were timed to coincide with the 120th anniversary of the first Sino—Japanese war, the Post report said.

Eight airports in Linxi, Xuzhou, Lianyungang, Huaian, Yancheng, Changzhou, Yangzhou and Nantong will suspend all landings during the four-hour period.

Some northbound flights from airports in Jiangxi, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces will not be able to take off, according to a notice put out by the CAAC’s Air Traffic Management Bureau.

Over the weekend, more than 800 flights were delayed or cancelled in Beijing and Shanghai.

The aviation administration has advised airlines to cut the number of their flights entering the areas in order to ease the delays, Xinhua reported.

The Defence Ministry, however, blamed bad weather and not the military drills for the busy airspace. It promised to minimise the impact on civil aviation by opening up temporary routes to passenger flights and arranging detours in advance.

The massive flight delays have forced travellers to shift to railways, which, in turn has strained the availability of tickets for the high-speed trains between Shanghai and Beijing, the Beijing Times reported.

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Published on July 29, 2014
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