Shanghai’s Pudong Airport is a massive, modern and very impressive structure. With expansion to 5 runways due over the next few years, it can surely only grow from its current position as the world’s 20th busiest airport. However, there are 2 major issues here which will potentially restrict growth; firstly there is, like elsewhere in mainland China, the problem of the appalling pollution which reduces visibility and slows down operations. More serious at the moment is the problem of ‘airspace ownership’ – the Chinese military effectively ‘own’ all the airspace over China and are not too good at releasing it to the commercial operators, hence commercial travel into, out of and within China is subject to regular delays of indeterminable length. This photo was taken during one such delay – by the time we got going, we were close to running out of our allowable duty hours for the day and there were at least 15 aircraft ahead of us, a similar number waiting behind us, and all facing the same problems – let alone the inconvenience to passengers expecting to travel on something close to scheduled times. Things must change!
Waiting On The Job