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Juneyao Punished for Landing Row

Juneyao AirlinesThe General Administration of Civil Aviation in China announced a punishment on Monday for Juneyao Airlines, a privately held carrier. This comes after an incident earlier in August in the air above Shanghai when the flight crew of the airline refused to allow a Qatar Airways service to make an emergency landing following a ‘mayday’ call and request for immediate permission to land. The flight in trouble was low on fuel.

The Qatar flight was en route from Doha and had been hanging above Shanghai Pudong International Airport because of bad weather. Authorities made the decision to divert it to the Hongqiao International Airport, which is smaller, as it ran low on fuel. However, the pilot of the Juneyao service refused six orders from the control tower to circle so that the Qatar plane could land first.

Both services eventually conducted safe landings, but the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) said the Qatar plane only had about 18 minutes of fuel left after it finally landed. The Juneyao pilot claims that he was running low on fuel as well, but the CAA says that the jet still had 40 minutes of fuel when it landed. The agency noted that not following the traffic controllers’ orders was a serious violation of regulations.

Juneyao Airlines is one of the few private airlines in the Chinese industry, which is dominated by state-owned carriers. Now the carrier has been ordered to cut its flight capacity by 10% and has been temporarily banned from going ahead with growth plans and hiring foreign pilots. The captain of the flight, a citizen of South Korea, has also been barred from working as a pilot in China.

On Tuesday, the airline said that it would seriously learn lessons from this case. It takes full responsibility for the incident, as it was wrong for the crew not to carry out the air traffic controllers’ instructions on August 13, no matter the reason, it added. The CAA said China would hold a meeting with authorities in Qatar about if the crew of the Qatar Airways flight could have done better at predicting the low fuel issue.

Private airlines in China have had a hard time gaining market share against airline giants owned by the state – like China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Air China. However, new life has been blown into regional air routes throughout the country due to growing concerns about the safety of the nation’s high-speed rail network. In June, domestic carriers significantly reduced regional airfares when the Beijing-Shanghai rail line opened, but these prices have returned to normal because of the rail delays and safety worries.

The International Air Traffic Association (IATA) says rapid growth of the Chinese airline market has meant that the nation’s skies are becoming congested, resulting in detours, air traffic control problems, delays and raising collision risks. Statistics show that the number of civil planes is estimated to jump to 2,600 by 2015 and 4,360 by 2020 in China.

 

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