Business / Dalian Wanda

Air traffic grounded by sky-high towers

By Huang Zhiling in Mianyang, Sichuan, and Xin Dingding in Beijing (China Daily) Updated: 2012-07-03 10:50

Air traffic grounded by sky-high towers

An airplane flies over Wanda Plaza on Friday, which is under construction in Mianyang, Sichuan province. [Photo/China Daily] 

Construction has resumed on a disputed commercial plaza that has affected flight safety and led to canceled flights in Mianyang, Sichuan province.

Located near the Mianyang Nanjiao Airport, the project includes apartment buildings, office buildings and a commercial complex, with the tallest two buildings standing at 100 meters.

As the buildings are only 4 kilometers from the airport, it has affected the safe landing of airplanes.

On Thursday, the Mianyang government announced that it would strictly follow the requirement of civil aviation authorities and have the developer demolish part of the buildings to guarantee flight safety.

On Saturday, construction at the site was suspended.

But on Monday, China Daily found that work had started again.

Hu Sigui, 51, a worker at the site, told China Daily that he and fellow workers were informed on Sunday afternoon to resume on Monday.

"It was said that the suspension of construction over the weekend was just due to lack of electricity," he said.

The buildings' structures have been completed, and workers are doing inside decoration.

In April, the airport reported to local civil aviation authorities that, due to the height of the buildings, which had affected flight safety at night, all of its late flights were suspended.

The suspension of late flights caused losses of 200,000 yuan ($31,000) a day for the airport, resulting an accumulated loss of 12 million yuan in the past two months, according to an estimate by staff at the airport.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China's southwest regional administration conducted an investigation into the incident.

"Due to safety concerns, we have asked the Mianyang airport to raise the safety standards of operations, and coordinate with local government to solve the problem," Wang Xin, a publicity official with the regional administration, said on Monday.

According to civil aviation laws, the local government should be responsible for having those excessively high buildings corrected, the CAAC said in a written reply to China Daily on Monday.

Yet sales of the buildings are continuing.

At the project's sales center, there were still customers signing purchase contracts with the developer on Monday.

Guo Jianrong, who was signing a contract to buy an apartment, said he was not worried.

"Wanda Group said it had all required documents, and I trust it. There should be no problem," he said.

Wei Mingcong, a salesman at Wanda Plaza, said only two buildings are higher than allowed.

"If there should be demolition, a total of 336 apartments on the top seven floors of each of the two buildings will be affected," he said.

A senior manager of Wanda has arrived at Mianyang to discuss the matter with local government and the air force, which controls the airspace, in hope of finding solutions, he said.

"But no matter what happens, customers will be compensated if part of the buildings are demolished," he said.

The city government had no idea about the resumption of construction on Monday.

Chen Wen, a publicity official with the city government, said on Monday that he did not know construction had resumed.

"What I know is that Wanda Group has a firm stance on this, because it said it had all required documents issued by the Mianyang government to construct the buildings as they are now," Chen said.

A staff member at the publicity department of Wanda told China Daily that the group is still discussing how to handle the incident, and had no comment.

Media speculation believed that since the Wanda Group had all required documents granted by local government departments, it could have been the fault of local government that lacked good planning - as seen several months ago in a dispute between the project and a school.

In May, media reported that the Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School had been demolished to make way for the Wanda project.

The school had been destroyed in the devastating earthquake that struck Sichuan province in 2008 and caused the deaths of nearly 70,000 people.

It was later rebuilt on 4 million yuan of charity funds donated by Hong Kong and 2 million yuan from the Mianyang government. The new school building was completed in 2010, but was demolished this year after the city's land planning department decided to allocate the land to Wanda to develop the plaza project.

The Mianyang government later decided to honor the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government's decision to take back its HK$2 million ($258,000) in aid for construction of the school and ensured completion of the school at a new site.

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