Mass Cancellation of Flights Across China; Reasons Unclear

By Sophia Lam


Nearly 60 percent of flights across China were canceled Wednesday, according to state media.

Flight Master said 9,583 flights had been canceled nationwide as of 22.35 p.m. on Sept. 21, accounting for 59.66 percent of those total scheduled journeys of the day, reported

Based in Shenzhen, Flight Master provides information on flights and ticketing and travel services.

Some busy air transport hubs in China recorded over 50 percent cancelation rates, according to Flight Master:

  • Beijing Capital International Airport canceled 622 flights, with a cancellation rate of 60 percent
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport had 652 cancelations of flights, with a cancellation rate of 54 percent
  • Shenzhen Baoan Airport’s 542 flights were canceled, accounting for 51 percent of its total flights

Airports with high cancellation rates include three airports in China’s western provinces:

  • Guiyang Longdongbao Airport (Guizhou Province): 539 flights canceled, with a cancellation rate of 99 percent
  • Lhasa Gongga Airport (Tibet): 157 flights canceled, with a cancellation rate of 98 percent
  • Chengdu Tianfu Airport (Sichuan Province): 752 flights canceled, with a cancellation rate of 87 percent

Other Chinese airports also saw various cancellations of flights on the same day. Some of the airports’ cancellations and cancellation rates are listed below:

  • Urumqi Diwobao Airport (Xinjiang): 476 flights; cancellation rate being 79 percent
  • Tianjin Binhai International Airport (about 84 miles east of Beijing): 353 flights; cancellation rate being 74 percent
  • Harbin Taiping Airport (Heilongjiang Province): 275 flights canceled; cancellation rate being 56 percent
  • Xi’an Xianyang International Airport (Shaanxi Province): 555 flights canceled; cancellation rate being 56 percent
  • Nanjing Lukou International Airport (Jiangsu Province): 378 flights canceled; cancellation rate being 54
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (Guangdong Province): 560 flights canceled, cancellation rate being 40%
The logo of China Eastern Airlines
The logo of China Eastern Airlines is pictured at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on March 21, 2022. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

No Official Explanation

There is no official explanation on China’s top aviation body’s website.

But Netease, a major news portal in China, wrote yesterday that the cancellations were mainly due to recent COVID-19 flare-ups in multiple provinces in China.

Former Chinese investigative reporter Zhao Lanjian tweeted yesterday that he’d contacted an aviation professional in China.

He wrote in his tweet that “the reason [for the mass cancellations] is unclear, but [the mass cancellations] are true,” and that such a nationwide mass cancellation was “very rare.”

According to Zhao’s tweet: “This mass cancellation of flights must be a military directive. Air traffic control authority is decided by the Chinese military, which in turn gives instructions to civil aviation management. The airspace is set aside so that military aircraft can fly at will. This is military planning, or at least with military prep.”

Zhao is the reporter who investigated the chained woman, a victim of child trafficking and sexual persecution in Xuzhou, China’s eastern Jiangsu Province. Zhao was targeted by local police and national security agents after posting his investigation online. He fled China via Malaysia and arrived in the United States in July.

The Epoch Times is not able to verify Zhao’s tweet.

The reason for this mass cancellation is still unknown.

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