Chinese airports experience more delays than anywhere else in the world

By Ryan Kilpatrick, March 22, 2015

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Chinese airlines and airports are the least punctual on Earth, according to the latest data from US-based monitoring firm FlightStats.

Just 65 percent of mainland flights left on time last year. Even that number, however, looks good compared to Shanghai's Hongqiao and Pudong airports, where a paltry 37 percent of flights take off when they're supposed to.

ALMOST UNDERSTANDABLE: Passengers on board delayed flight open emergency exits and escape down to taxiway

Hangzhou's Xiaoshan Airport does little better with 38 percent of flights leaving on time, and Shenzhen Bao'an, Guangzhou Baiyun, Chongqing Jiangbei and of course Beijing Capital all follow close behind.

By pulling away from the gate on time and just sitting on tarmac for up to several hours, China's own official figures paint a much cheerier picture of about three-quarters of flights leaving on time.

While bad weather and technical problems hold flights back worldwide, most of China's late departures are the result of politics. The PLA controls 70-80 percent of China's airspace, leaving only tiny corridors above cities for civilian aircraft to take off, land and navigate storms in.

Unable to take alternative routes, planes pile up and aircraft controllers have no incentive to get them off the ground.

To add insult to injury for China's aviation industry, perennial baddies Japan can boast the most punctuation flights in the world - when they're not being delayed by errant Chinese shoppers.

READ MORE: Okinawa airport brought to a standstill after Chinese travelers breach security to go shopping

Still, at least China is improving. In 2013, only 18 percent of flights from Beijing left within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure time, while Shanghai came in at 29 percent.

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