China's odd way of fixing its flight delay problem

China is reducing its infamous delays by eliminating the take-off queue. But will it fix the problems?

China has the second-most airline passengers in the world, behind the United States, but experiences the worst flight delays in the world. The Chinese government says its punctuality rate is at a five-year low. The delays are causing air rage from passengers that have grown so bad that airports are no longer allowed to announce major delays.

So China has come up with a new plan to reduce flight delays: eliminating the take-off queue. A plane can now take off even if there isn't a spot for it to land at its destination. But the new policy solution is causing other problems, Quartz reports:

The new policy, called “unrestricted take off,” has already improved on-time takeoffs at Beijing Capital Airport. But it’s causing a cascade of new woes: Planes are forced to circle their destinations for hours waiting for a runway slot to open up, burning increasingly costly fuel, placing further stress on an overstretched air traffic control system and potentially putting passengers at risk.

Sure, this plan will dramatically reduce take-off delays, and skew statistics. But it won't deal with issues that create crowded airspace, like 80 percent of the air space being restricted for military use. Instead, it's just creating new problems that could hurt airlines flying in China which will now burn extra (expensive) fuel while circling China's already smoggy cities .

Read more: Quartz

Photo: Flickr/Renato @ Mainland China

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com