Several flights delayed per day over China’s military drills

1 airport macauTwo to three flights per day – departing or arriving in Macau from mainland China –
are likely to be delayed in the coming days due to ongoing People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military exercises.
Flights to and from East China will be affected by the delays the most, as PLA is holding military drills in the East China Sea, the Macau International Airport Company Limited (CAM) told the Times.
There are over sixty daily flights from the local airport to mainland cities, and Flightstatus.com reported dozens of “excessive delayed flights” (over 45 minutes) yesterday.
CAM said that two-hour delays are expected, but the duration of each delay may vary from flight to flight. Generally, passengers are advised to arrive at the airport on time for their original flight plan’s schedule.
“Airlines will only be able to fly when they are permitted, so they will ensure passengers will be within the airport,” CAM added. The Civil Aviation Authority of Macau said airliners will ensure all necessary arrangements are in place when flights are delayed.
According to Bloomberg News, China has announced new military exercises in the East China Sea, adding to drills that had been previously announced in other areas, which is likely to further disrupt domestic air travel and increase tensions with neighboring regions over territorial disputes.
Xi Jinping has been expanding the reach of China’s navy and using the added muscle to more aggressively assert territorial claims within the region, Bloomberg reported.
Five days of drills in the East China Sea are set to begin today. The Ministry of Defense called them “routine exercises.” These add to live-fire drills off Beibu Bay (or Gulf of Tonkin), near Vietnam, and Bohai Strait – both ending on August 1.
Beijing News reported on Sunday, citing Zhang Junshe, a researcher at Navy Military Research Institute, that while the scale of current drills is bigger than in previous years, it is a coincidence that the annual exercises are being held at the same time.
Military and civil aviation authorities have taken steps to minimize the impact of the new drills, the Defense Ministry has said in a statement.
China is the world’s second-
largest air travel market, having most of its airspace controlled by the military. According to an AP report, China’s Civil Aviation Administration had warned last week that flights could be disrupted across a wide swath of eastern China until mid-August.
According to Sunday Morning Post, the civil aviation regulator issued an orange alert (second highest) on Saturday morning for 23 airports, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Nanchang, Hefei, Zhengzhou, and Wenzhou –  destinations operated by Air Macau. By 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, 130 flights had been cancelled and 519 others were delayed at Shanghai’s two airports.
However, the mainland’s Ministry of Defense later came to deny that flights have been delayed due to military drills.
He blamed the weather for flight disruptions instead, South China Morning Post reported yesterday. The mainland’s civilian air traffic authority had previously stated that flight delays would occur due to “stormy weather and regular military drills” until August 15.

*with João Pedro Lau

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