On-time performance in Chinese commercial aviation leapt 8.5 percentage points to 80.1% in 2018, the best result in eight years, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.

The country completed nine commercial airports in 2018, including replacements for old facilities, CAAC said in an annual progress report issued Jan. 7. The national airport total rose to 235 from 229.

Chinese commercial aviation infrastructure also gained 305 aircraft stands and 1.33 million sq m (14.3 million sq. ft.) of terminal space in 2018.

The administration attributed the improvement in service reliability to a wide range of measures, including rational seasonal schedules and strict management of services for busy airports.

A specific measure introduced in 2018 was limitation on flights in the east of the country, the busiest region. Industry sources said the agency told airlines it would cancel rights to services that were too poorly patronized.

More generally, CAAC said traffic flow across the country was better managed in 2018 and spacing between aircraft reduced. Chinese controllers have tended to be unnecessarily conservative in maintaining separation distances, industry sources said.

CAAC classifies a flight as on time if its arrival is within 15 min. of schedule.

Bradley Perrett, perrett@aviationweek.com