Chinese airlines have been ordered to cut a quarter of their flights at a dozen Chinese airports, including two of the country's busiest in Shanghai, to accommodate four weeks of "high frequency exercises," state media reported.
Shanghai's Pudong and Hongqiao international airports were among 12 airports largely along the country's east coast affected by the order, which began July 20 and would last until August 15, state broadcaster China Central Television reported on the microblog of its financial channel today. The post later appeared to have been deleted.
The statement explained neither the purpose of the exercises nor who issued the order. The People's Liberation Army on July 15 began three months of live-fire drills in six regional military commands, including the one that oversees Shanghai, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. Some training sessions would be conducted under a "complex electromagnetic environment," the report said.
The flight restrictions hit some of the country's busiest airports at the height of the summer travel season. The two Shanghai airports were ranked among the worst four airports in Asia for flight delays and cancellations in the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Flightstat.com.
Calls to the Ministry of National Defense, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the Shanghai Airport Authority were not answered. The Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines Corp, the country's second-largest airline by market value, didn't answer five calls for comment.
Airports in Hangzhou, Hefei, Jinan, Lianyungang, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Wuhan, Wuxi and Zhengzhou were also affected by the order, according to the CCTV post said.