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Report on National Civil Flights Operation Efficiency in 2017 Released09/04/2018

CAAC recently released the Report on National Civil Flights Operation Efficiency in 2017, giving an overall picture of flights operation efficiency in China in 2017. According to the report, the national civil flights regularity in 2017 was v-shaped. During the second half of the year, the civil flights operation efficiency was on a steady rise, yet the industry was still facing problems such as the urgent need to upgrade airspace environment and the need to improve airport operation efficiency.

According to the report, the 2017 national civil flights regularity rate was 71.67%. Under the influence of multiple factors including continuously growing traffic, complex weather conditions and frequent activities of other airspace users, the flight regularity rate saw a trough last June, July and August. CAAC took decisive measures to strictly control the overall operation capacity, properly apply operation standards, continuously improve support capabilities, and enhance supportive technical means. The flight regularity rate then began to move up and reached 83.85%, 84.59% and 88.33% respectively in October, November and December, hitting successive record highs.

According to the report, aircraft movements in China continued to increase in the past two years and reached 9.28 million in 2017 with an annual growth rate of about 9.7%. The total number of flights handled was 5.32 million; the monthly average was 443,572, with a year-on-year growth of 7.01%; and the daily average was 14,583, with a year-on-year growth of 7.3%. Throughout the whole year, the daily average was the lowest in January, and the highest in August due to the summer vacation rush.

With respect to aircraft movements in 2017, the daily peak reached 1,863 at Beijing Capital Airport, which continued to rank first in China. In 2017, among the airports whose traffic accounted for more than 1% (inclusive) of the national total, Tianjin Airport witnessed the largest increase (17.88%) in aircraft movements. Among the airports whose traffic accounted for 0.2% (inclusive) to 1% (not inclusive) of the national total, Nanchang Airport saw the biggest increase of 36.34% in aircraft movements.

Since 2006, China’s aircraft movements have been growing at an annual rate of 10%. However, from 2004 to 2017, the average annual growth rate of total route mileage was only 3.6%. ADS-B surveillance data shows that in 2017, Guangzhou air traffic control area ranked first among all ATC areas in terms of the number of flights handled (2.919 million), followed by Shanghai and Chengdu ATC areas; Shanghai ATC area was the busiest one in terms of accumulated flight hours (785,200 hours), followed by Guangzhou, Chengdu and Beijing ATC areas. The report also shows that in terms of daily traffic, the top ten busiest route segments in China are mainly in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou areas; the waypoint Zhoukou (Beijing/Zhengzhou), with a daily average traffic of more than 1,700 flights, has been the business waypoint for the last four consecutive years.

The report compares air traffic and operation between China and Europe. With a smaller available airspace and fewer options of air routes in comparison with Europe, China’s civil aviation industry actually assumes a heavier burden of flight operation. The report also suggests that increasing airspace supply is the most direct, fast and effective way of significantly expanding airspace capacity.

According to the report, from 2013 and 2017, the total flying distance, flying time and fuel consumption of civil flights continued to increase, yet the carbon dioxide emission per flight hour decreased, which was 9.65 tons/flight hour in 2017, 0.12 ton/flight hour less than that in 2016. The data prove that the efforts of China’s civil aviation industry in energy conservation and emission reduction have been effective. The report also reveals that civil aviation is playing a more vital role in the development of China’s northwest, northeast and southwest regions. In 2017, aircraft movements in northwestern areas grew by 14.16%, which ranked first among the areas under the jurisdiction of seven CAAC regional administrations. Meanwhile, for northwest, northeast areas and Xinjiang where tourism-peak season lasts for several months every year, civil flights also increased substantially, which strongly promoted the development of local tourism industries.