This undated photo shows two Xiamen Airlines stewardesses kneel in prayer at a shrine dedicated to being “on time”.
Here is more. By the way, this is part of the problem:
The latest statistics shows that the flow of air traffic accounts for as high as 40 percent of the total number of flight delays during the first half of this year. And whether the flight could take off in time or not, it depends on the fellowship with the air traffic controller.
Captain Wang Hai said that as long as one crew member on a flight personally knows the air traffic controller, the flight would be given priority to take off in time.
But some air traffic controllers explain that queue-jumping contributes to flights unpunctuality.
“International flights and those carrying important passengers, such as government officials, business tycoons and senior officials in civil aviation, do not have to wait in long queues to take off”, an air traffic controller in south China’s Guangzhou said.
Here is related coverage from The Economist, excerpt:
The first and oldest problem is that China’s armed forces control most of the nation’s airspace—perhaps 70-80% of it. This is especially the case above and around cities, leaving very narrow corridors for aeroplanes to take off, land and navigate nasty weather.
I will once again recommend to you the James Fallows book on aviation in China.
For the pointer I thank D.