Chinese regulator sets rule to drive on-time take-offs

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The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has imposed a new regulation at eight major airports across the country, in a move aimed at driving on-time take-offs.

With the new measure, air traffic controllers will only be able to hold back a flight because of military or weather-related reasons, says the CAAC. This means that airlines will have to take off after the aircraft's cabin doors are closed, even if pilots have not secured a landing slot at the arrival airport.

The affected airports are Beijing Capital, Shanghai Hongqiao, Shanghai Pudong, Guangzhou Baiyun, Shenzhen Bao'an, Chengdu Shuangliu, Xian Xianyang and Kunming Changshui.

Although the move is expected to cut down on flight delays at the eight airports, local media reports say pilots have voiced concerns that taking off without first securing landing slots could result in jets having to circle in the air waiting, resulting in higher fuel costs for airlines.

Between 2012 and 2031, China's air traffic demand is also expected to grow at 7.2% annually, data from Flightglobal's Ascend consultancy shows.

This means that China could account for 15% of global aviation traffic demand by 2031, up from 10% in 2011.