Mass cancellation of flights across China, reasons unclear

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Almost 60 percent of flights on the other side China were canceled on Wednesday, according to state media.

Flight Master said 9,583 flights were canceled nationwide as of 10:35 p.m. on September 21, representing 59.66% of the day’s total scheduled trips, China.com reported.

Based in Shenzhen, flight master provides flight information and ticketing and travel services.

Some busy air travel hubs in China have seen cancellation rates of over 50%, according to Flight Master:

  • Beijing Capital International Airport canceled 622 flights, with 60% cancellation rate
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport recorded 652 flight cancellations, with a cancellation rate of 54%
  • Shenzhen Baoan Airport’s 542 flights canceled, accounting for 51% of its total flights

Airports with high cancellation rates include three airports in China’s western provinces:

  • Guiyang Longdongbao Airport (Guizhou Province): 539 canceled flights, with a cancellation rate of 99%
  • Lhasa Gongga Airport (Tibet): 157 canceled flights, with a cancellation rate of 98%
  • Chengdu Tianfu Airport (Sichuan Province): 752 canceled flights, with a cancellation rate of 87%

Other Chinese airports also saw various flight cancellations on the same day. Some of the airport cancellation and cancellation rates are listed below:

  • Urumqi Diwobao Airport (Xinjiang): 476 flights; cancellation rate being 79 percent
  • Tianjin Binhai International Airport (about 84 miles east of Beijing): 353 flights; cancellation rate being 74 percent
  • Harbin Taiping Airport (Heilongjiang Province): 275 canceled flights; cancellation rate being 56 percent
  • Xi’an Xianyang International Airport (Shaanxi Province): 555 canceled flights; cancellation rate being 56 percent
  • Nanjing Lukou International Airport (Jiangsu Province): 378 canceled flights; cancellation rate being 54
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (Guangdong Province): 560 flights canceled, cancellation rate 40%
China Eastern Airlines logo
The logo of China Eastern Airlines is pictured at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on March 21, 2022. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

No official explanation

There is no official explanation on the website of China’s main aviation body.

But Netease, a major news portal in China, wrote yesterday that the cancellations were mainly due to recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in several provinces in China.

Former Chinese investigative journalist Zhao Lanjian tweeted yesterday that he had contacted an aviation professional in China.

He wrote in his tweet that “the reason [for the mass cancellations] is not clear, but [the mass cancellations] are true,” and that such a nationwide mass cancellation was “very rare.”

According to Zhao’s tweet: “This massive cancellation of flights must be a military directive. The air traffic control authority is decided by the Chinese military, which in turn gives instructions to the civil aviation directorate. Airspace is reserved for military aircraft to fly at will. It is military planning, or at least with military preparation.

Zhao is the reporter who investigation the chained woman, a victim of child trafficking and sexual persecution in Xuzhou, in the eastern province of Jiangsu in China. Zhao was targeted by local police and national security agents after posting his investigation online. He fled China via Malaysia and arrived in the United States in July.

Epoch Times is unable to verify Zhao’s tweet.

The reason for this massive cancellation is still unknown.

Li Jing contributed to the article.

Sophie Lam

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Sophia Lam joined The Epoch Times in 2021 and covers China-related topics.

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