Air rage: Chinese screaming mad over delays

Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:27pm EST
 
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By Kazunori Takada

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Airline crews and ground staff are assaulted, passengers storm a runway, and a person yanks open an emergency exit door on a plane.

In China, angry passengers are resorting to extreme measures to protest delays as the country's restricted air corridors are becoming clogged with millions of new fliers each year -- a fact attributed to the fast rise of the middle class and cheap flights.

There have been dozens of incidents involving irate travelers on both domestic and international flights this year, as airlines struggle to stick to their schedules.

"When flights get delayed, passengers make a lot of trouble. Sometimes they even beat our staff," Wang Zhenghua, founder and chairman of Shanghai-based budget carrier Spring Airlines, told Reuters in an interview earlier this year.

"Airlines are actually the weaker party. With the government calling for a 'harmonious society', the only thing we can do is to give them compensation to calm them down."

With manufacturers predicting a new plane will take to China's skies every other day for the next two decades, industry officials say congestion is only going to get worse. And that means more delays.

Some 30 years ago, flying was a travel option only available to top government and company officials who needed to submit a special document from their employer to buy a plane ticket.

While most Chinese people still use trains for long-distance travel because of the lower cost, rising income and cheaper flights as a result of increased competition means more are now using planes.   Continued...

 
Passengers watch a China Southern Airlines plane take off as they wait to board their plane at Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport in this April 16, 2012 file photo. In China, angry passengers are resorting to extreme measures to protest delays as the country's restricted air corridors are becoming clogged with millions of new fliers each year -- a fact attributed to the fast rise of the middle class and cheap flights. There have been dozens of incidents involving irate travellers on both domestic and international flights this year, as airlines struggle to stick to their schedules. REUTERS/David Gray/Files