China limits Emirates expansion after two safety incidents

China’s civil aviation authority has fined the world’s largest long-haul carrier, Dubai-based Emirates, and barred it from adding new destinations and aircraft in China for six months, following two incidents of “unsafe operations”.

Airline crew were responsible for an April 17 incident in which an aircraft flew at the wrong height and another on May 18, when a plane temporarily lost contact with air traffic control, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.

Both incidents took place over the far western region of Xinjiang, the regulator said in a statement on its website late on Wednesday.

The regulator fined Emirates 29,000 yuan ($4,270) over the incidents, and said it had summoned senior airline officials to a meeting, but gave no further details.

Emirates will cooperate fully with the CAAC and complete all actions it has recommended, an airline spokeswoman said.

But the penalty will not make a significant impact on Emirates’ earnings, as China accounts for just 3 percent of its total capacity, said Corrine Png, chief executive of transport research firm Crucial Perspective.

“However, this does set Emirates back in terms of its strategic growth plans in China for another 6 months,” she said, adding that Emirates grew its China capacity by 8 percent on the year in the first half, outstripping other carriers.