CHINA TOPIX

Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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More Flight Disruptions In China As Military Conducts Drills In Southeast Coast

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, China

(Photo : REUTERS/David Gray) Passengers wait to board their flight at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

More than 150 flights were cancelled and an additional 428 were delayed in China's airports Tuesday owing to restricted airspace as the country conducted its military live-fire drills over its southeast coast, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China's Air Traffic Management Bureau issued the order to two of the country's major airports - Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport - to reduce its flight capacity by up to 75 percent from 2 to 6 p.m. At least 12 smaller airports in east and south China were also asked to reduce its flight traffic.

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Although China houses two of the world's most delayed airports, air traffic disruptions have been especially heightened in recent weeks due to weather and military drills.

As of Tuesday, the restrictions have caused an airline capacity reduction of up to 25 percent in at least 12 airports, airline officials said.

In a statement released on its website, the Ministry of National Defense said the exercises were routine. The drills, which began last week, will be carried out in the Bohai Sea, East China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin until mid-August.

Zhang Qihuai, a frequent traveler, said the government should aim to balance its military training with ordinary people's travel plans.

And while such routine drills are not uncommon, Shanghai University Political Science and Law defense researcher Ni Lexiong said that compared to previous exercises, these drills are unusually large in scope and are likely aimed at Japan to signify its stance in the region.

Meanwhile, UBS Securities aviation analyst Eric Lin said the flight disruptions would be harmful for the airline industry, given that the restrictions were issued during the traditional peak season. But said he didn't think air travel demand in China would decrease, citing a growth forecast of up to 10 percent despite a slowdown in the nation's economy.

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