Stormy weather disrupts air traffic

Yang Jian
Some 110 flights have been canceled and over 70 others were delayed at Shanghai's two airports yesterday (Thursday) due to thunder and heavy rain.
Yang Jian

Some 110 flights were canceled and over 70 others were delayed at Shanghai’s two airports yesterday as thundershowers and heavy rains battered the city.

Both Pudong and Hongqiao international airports experienced storms which began around noon. A total of 71 departing and arriving flights were canceled at Hongqiao airport as of 6pm yesterday, while 43 others have been canceled at Pudong, the Shanghai Airport Authority said.

Air traffic controllers issued an orange alert, the second most severe alarm on its four-tier system, yesterday morning and estimated takeoff and landing capacity at the airports to be reduced by half.

Hongqiao airport was more severely impacted by yesterday’s storm. Long lines of passengers queued at airline counters to change or cancel flights.

At Pudong airport, several passenger aircraft were forced to wait on taxiways.

“It seems too difficult to take a flight home from Shanghai in summer,” said Ou Weiwei, a passenger on a China Eastern Airlines flight bound for her hometown of Fuzhou, in southeast Fujian Province. Her flight was scheduled to take off before 9am, but still hadn’t departed by 12:30pm.

The impact of yesterday’s delays ran until about 6pm, according to air traffic controllers at the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s regional office.

Local carrier Spring Airlines announced they would cancel 20 flights taking off or landing at the city’s airports yesterday, most of them flights to southern and eastern Chinese cities.

The city’s weather forecaster calls for rainfall until Sunday, potentially impacting flights into the weekend.

China’s summer travel rush began on July 1 and runs until August 31. This period will see an increase in passenger traffic on both domestic and international flights as well as more frequent delays and cancellations due to rainstorms, thunder and typhoons.

Earlier this week the city’s airports and airlines announced new emergency plans, increased capacity on popular routes and improved service to cope with the seasonal travel surge.

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