When you think of delayed airports, you probably think of places like Atlanta, Dallas and New York JFK, particularly if most of your travel tends to be domestic. While some of these airports are indeed delay prone (DFW airport, for example, ranked 115 in 2015, with an on-time percentage of just 76.8), they pale in comparison to the world's 10 most delayed airports—all but one of which, interestingly, is in Asia.
To be sure, unless you travel overseas a lot, you might not even know where some of these cities are. Nonetheless, here are the world's most delayed airports, based on on-time percentage, according to 2015 data published by FlightStats.com.
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Jakarta, Indonesia: 35.2%
The world's most delay-prone airport, as of this writing, is Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. The hub of Garuda Indonesia Airlines, Jakarta Airport serves more than 200,000 flights per year, placing it in the top 20 airports in the world according to traffic. What leads to the delays here, however, is a combination of inadequate air traffic control infrastructure and an airport facility that is both too small and too antiquated for current usage, even if the traditional design of the airport does make for a charming delay.
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Hangzhou, China: 40.6%
Xiaoshan Airport in Hangzhou, China, on the other hand, does not serve as a hub for a large airline, although the airport does have nonstop service to the majority of large cities in China. Indeed, this airport has less than half the flights Jakarta has, and its facility is newer and more adequate, which means that it is a combination of air traffic control, short supply of runways and, possibly, smog from nearby cities affecting visibility.
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Nanjing, China: 44.7%
Although Nanjing is relatively unknown to foreigners these days, it has an important place in Chinese history, having served as imperial China's capital (its name means "Southern Capital") before Beijing ("Northern Capital") achieved its current status. Like Hangzhou, Nanjing's delays stem mainly from operational issues and not necessarily flight volume, as just 75,000 flights passed through here in 2015, making it one of the least busy airports on this list.
04 of 11
Shanghai (Pudong), China: 51.6%
Shanghai's Pudong Airport, on the other hand, is approximately as busy as Jakarta Airport. Not only that, it serves as the primary hub for China Eastern Airlines and also, hosts large operations from Air China and China Southern Airlines. Pudong Airport's main issue is that it is operating far above capacity, and has been since shortly after it opened in 1999, as a reliever to Hongqiao Airport, another airport on our list. The good news is that a new satellite hall—the world's largest—has been approved and will begin construction soon, which should end some of Pudong Airport's traffic woes.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Shenzhen, China: 54%
The craziest thing about Shenzhen Airport's congestion (just over half of its 143,000 flights in 2015 arrived or departed on time) is the same thing that's crazy about Shenzhen itself: Around 40 years ago, it was a sleepy fishing village on the Pearl River. Today, it's practically fused with other large cities in China's Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, and sits just across the water from Hong Kong. Still, its airport remains one of the world's most delayed, in spite of the fact that no global airline operates a hub here, unlike Guangzhou or Hong Kong, where five-star rated Cathay Pacific Airlines is based.
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Tianjin, China: 54.3%
Like Shenzhen, Tianjin's main distinguishing feature is that it sits near another behemoth city—in this case, Beijing. Indeed, although Tianjin Airport technically serves as a "hub" for Tianjin Airlines, it also lacks a major explanation for its delays, especially considering that it only served 55,000 flights last year.
Indeed, although Beijing Capital airport is one of the world's least punctual airports, at least anecdotally, you may want to take a high speed train there and use it as your point of origin or departure in China, at least if you value your time. In fact, if you're traveling domestically in China at all, high speed train might be a better alternative in general.
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Shanghai (Hongqiao), China: 54.3%
As I mentioned earlier, Shanghai's Pudong Airport was built as a reliever to crowded, older Hongqiao. Specifically, the idea was that Pudong would take over most of the international flying, while Hongqiao would remain a mostly domestic airport, not unlike the two-airport systems function in Tokyo (Narita/Haneda), Seoul (Incheon/Gimpo) and Osaka (Kansai/Itami).
Unfortunately, as has happened in all three of those cities (albeit to a lesser extent), growth has exceeded the capacity of both airports, as Hongqiao has not only welcomed more domestic flights, but also a limited number of regional international flights. The good news is that Hongqiao's on-time performance is slightly better than Pudong's. The bad news is that both are under 60%, which means that your air travel is almost certain to be delayed if you fly through Shanghai.
(Which makes sense, when you consider that by many measures, Shanghai is the largest city in the world.)
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Guangzhou, China: 54.58%
Like Shenzhen, the Chinese city of Guangzhou makes up part of the country's Pearl River Delta megacity, which is home to nearly 100 million people. Another thing Guangzhou and Shenzhen have in common is crowded airports: Flights at Baiyun Airport, which serves Guangzhou, depart on-time just over half the time.
Guangzhou's airport is about 33% busier than Shenzhen's, due to its status as the main hub for China Southern Airlines, but the numbers still don't bode well for travelers transiting through, arriving to or departing from here, no matter how you add them up.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11
Manchester, UK: 55.98%
Notably, Manchester's Ringway International Airport is the only non-Asian airport on this list. Its inclusion is surprising for a number of reasons, from the fact that Brits are generally known to be on-time, to its relatively low traffic numbers (around 75,000 flights in 2015) compared to other UK and European Airports. Nonetheless, Manchester Airport is one of the most delay-prone airports in the world, a fact that can't make the Queen proud.
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Fuzhou, China: 56.06%
Fuzhou's Changle International Airport is the least-crowded airport on our list of the world's most delayed airports, with just 40,000 flights in 2015. It is also arguably the least significant airport on this list, perhaps matches only by Nanjing. Although Fuzhou is the capital of populous Fujian province, it sits far from any internationally-important city, and both its traffic and delays derive mostly from domestic Chinese flights.
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This list of the world's most delayed airports is both disproportionately Asian and disproportionately Chinese, which might cause you to be confused about where your favorite delay-prone airport ranks. If you don't care to look at the link I included in the intro (or you're too strapped for time, as would be appropriate, given this list), here are the next 10 entries to round out the top 20:
11. Moscow (Vnukovo), Russia: 56.4%
11 (Tie). Xiamen, China: 56.4%
13. Zhengzhou, China: 56.8%
14. Jeju, South Korea: 57.6%
15. Rome, Italy: 58.4%
16. Hong Kong: 58.8%
17. Sanya, China: 58.9%
18. Wuhan, China: 59.4%
19. Taipei, Taiwan: 59.5%
20. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: 60.5%
(Still pretty Chinese, folks.)