Flights grounded at Beijing during parade

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The Beijing capital airport will shut down for three hours starting from 9:30 am on Oct 1 for the National Day parade, affecting some 180 flights and thousands of passengers.

The capital airport is the busiest airport in the country, with at least 1,000 flights taking off or landing per day, or at least one flight every minute.

A spokesman for the Beijing Capital International Airport said yesterday that it will close its three runways starting from 9 am, and restart runway lights and navigations systems at noon.

An Air China spokeswoman said that all its domestic flights to and from Beijing during the three hours have been cancelled, but all its international flights will be rescheduled to other times in the day.

"We will rearrange planes to guarantee enough transport capacity and reduce troubles for passengers as much as we can," she said.

She declined to disclose how many Air China flights will be affected.

Air China is based at the capital airport, accounting for nearly 80 percent of the operations in the airport's largest terminal building.

China Southern, another major airline based in Guangzhou, said at least 40 of their flights will be affected.

"But only very few passengers will be affected, as tickets for affected flights stopped sales quite early," a China Southern spokesman said.

Major airlines, including Air China, China Southern and Hainan Airlines, said they will refund or reissue the tickets without charging extra fees for passengers who bought tickets for flights during those three hours,

Similar restrictions were adopted on the opening night of the Olympic Games last year, as more than 300 flights were cancelled or postponed from 7 pm to midnight.

"It is wiser to simply travel at another time. I want to sit in front of the TV and watch the live broadcast of the parade that morning anyway," Beijinger Wang Yingchao said. She planned a trip to Hainan province during Golden Week and has now decided to leave on Oct 3.

Meanwhile, Beijing will see large-scale traffic control on Oct 1 to make way for the National Day parade, officials said.

Since more than 200,000 people and 8,000 vehicles will descend on Tian'anmen Square from all corners of the city for the parade that day, traffic on main streets and ring roads in downtown Beijing will be affected, said Shao Jie, head of Beijing's traffic command center.

Some 7,000 traffic police will be dispatched onto the streets that day from the wee hours until midnight, he said.

In some areas, such as Tian'anmen Square, Olympic Green, the Summer Palace, Fragrant Hill and along the Badaling expressway, traffic control measures will continue until the end of Golden Week, but trucks will be affected the most, according to a notice issued by the municipal traffic control bureau.

On National Day, some 10,000 residents who live in communities near Tian'anmen Square will also be affected, as they are required to hold temporary passes to go in and out of their communities on Oct 1.

The special passes will be issued to residents in nine communities of Dashila area until Tuesday at local community committees. Residents should provide their identification certificate to get the passes.

(China Daily September 25, 2009)

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