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Delayed! Why flying in China is hard

China's airports suffer more flights delays than almost anywhere else in the world, leading to fits of outrage.

Chronic flight delays

aviation china 1

Flying in China? Prepare for lengthy airport delays.

The country's largest airports, serving the mega-cities of Shanghai and Beijing, suffer more flights delays than almost anywhere else in the world.

In June 2013, only 18% of flights made their departure times at Beijing Capital International Airport, according to data from FlightStats.

Shanghai was little improved, logging an on-time departure rate of 29%. A whopping 34% of flights were delayed by more than 45 minutes, while 3% were canceled outright.

While June was a particularly bad month, frequent China travelers have learned to build huge blocks of time into their schedules to account for potential delays.

A variety of factors contribute to the trend, including overly cautious air traffic control and airspace restrictions for civilian aircraft. It's a problem that has caught the attention of Beijing.

There are signs that progress is being made. In the final month of last year, 43% of flights left Shanghai on time, while Beijing's rate improved to 56%. Official statistics, widely thought to be massaged, also show improvement.

- Last updated May 28 2014 10:32 PM ET