Flight delays aren’t unusual at Chinese airports, as WiC has reported before. However, events in Shanghai last Monday tested the patience of even the most hardened air travellers, after 101 flights were cancelled at Pudong International Airport and 103 more were delayed by more than two hours, according to reports from the Civil Aviation Administration of China. A further 74% of flight arrivals were delayed as the airspace around the city went into lockdown.
“The weather was fine, but the whole departure board lit up red and yellow with delays and cancellations till evening,” one American passenger told the LA Times.
The mystery is why the timetable seized up. Aviation authorities would only say that “other users” needed nearby airspace, which is usually code for the Chinese airforce hogging it for their own exercises and maneouvres.
That didn’t stop netizens speculating on alternative explanations, with Beijing Youth Daily reporting that two men were arrested for “spreading rumours” online about the shutdown. Apparently, they had suggested on weibo that the move was part of a dragnet set up by authorities to catch a high-level official who was trying to flee the country to escape a corruption investigation.
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