Chinese carriers were among the least punctual airlines in the world last month, and analysts attributed the poor performances to rapidly growing air traffic and bad weather.
A report from Civil Aviation Data Analysis, a Chinese organisation that tracks on-time performances of 103 major global carriers, said that in July, China's three major carriers were rated 86th or worse.
Of the three, Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines Co was the best at 86th with an on-time rating of 70.45 per cent. Beijing-based Air China Ltd was 93rd with 66.41 per cent. Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd was 94th, with only 64.46 per cent of its flights on schedule.
No Chinese carriers appear on the top 10 list for most punctual airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the report, Asia's top three airlines for punctuality are Thailand's Nok Air, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways.
Of all Chinese airlines, TransAsia Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways and EVA Air were the most punctual. Taipei-based TransAsia was 65th, while Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific was 74th and EVA, also based in Taipei, was 78th. Beijing-based Okay Airways had the highest punctuality rate among all Chinese-mainland carriers, at 80th.
The report is consistent with findings from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, which said in July that only 68.37 per cent of China's flights landed on time last year due to factors that included air traffic control and weather.
More than 80 per cent of flights in the Chinese mainland were punctual before 2009, but the percentage has fallen every year since 2010, hitting a record low in 2014, according to the CAAC report. Among the delayed flights, about 36.09 per cent are 30 minutes late or less, while 2.88 per cent face delays of more than four hours.
Bad weather and a spike in passengers were the major causes for last month's high percentage delay rate, industry experts said.
China's air traffic has grown annually by double digits in the last several years, and as many as 391.95 million trips were made via airlines in 2014, up 10.7 per cent from 2013, the CAAC said.
"China's air passenger numbers are growing at an unparalleled rate over the years, so much needs to be done to increase punctuality, such as improving management efficiency and handling facilities," said Li Lei, an industrial analyst with Minzu Securities.
July and August are traditionally the peak season for travelers, so carriers and airports are often under great pressure to handle the sudden increase in flights, Li added.
Many air passengers now are buying flight insurance. Purchases of delay insurance in July were 30 per cent higher than they were in June, and 20 to 30 per cent more customers of those buying the insurance claimed the 200 yuan (S$44) compensation during the same period, said Mao Yi, head of the public relations department with Shanghai-based low-budget carrier Spring Airlines.
In addition, July and August is also the stormy season in southern areas, so passengers flying to the south are more likely to buy insurance, as their counterparts traveling to the north do in November and December.
Spring Airlines was the nation's first carrier to offer flight delay insurance. Passengers can buy the insurance at 20 yuan per flight, and the insurance company will pay 200 yuan in compensation for flights delayed more than three hours.
Top 10 Punctual Airlines in July 2015
1. Nok Air (Thailand) 98.99 per cent
2. AirBaltic (Latvia) 97.85 per cent
3. Wideroe (Norway) 97.63 per cent
4. Japan Airlines (Japan) 97.02 per cent
5. Hawaiian Airlines (US) 96.92 per cent
6. All Nippon Airways (Japan) 96.83 per cent
7. Finnair (Finland) 96.82 per cent
8. Qatar Airways (Qatar) 96.70 per cent
9. Copa Airlines (Panama) 96.28 per cent
10. LOT Polish Airlines (Poland) 96.16 per cent
Top Five Punctual Airlines in China July 2015 (Global Ranking)
65. TransAsia Airways (Taiwan) 84.72 per cent
74. Cathay Pacific Airways (Hong Kong) 82.93 per cent
78. EVA Air (Taiwan) 78.23 per cent
80. Okay Airways (Chinese mainland) 76.83 per cent
81. Shandong Airlines (Chinese mainland) 76.27 per cent
Source: Civil Aviation Data Analysis