BEIJING - China ordered domestic airlines to reduce delays and improve service for the Beijing Olympics in August or face penalties.

Airlines that fail to improve performance could be barred from expanding services for two years, among other penalties introduced by aviation regulators at a meeting Friday, the state-run China Daily reported Saturday.

Beijing's overcrowded airport, the world's ninth busiest, will open a new US$4.6 billion terminal and runway this year to cope with the demand.

The Civil Aviation Administration has ordered airlines to stop overbooking flights and keep one or two planes on standby at six key airports in case of delays, China Daily said.

Scrutiny would intensify from July to September, according to Vice Minister Yang Guoqing of the General Administration of Civil Aviation.

China's airlines and airports have struggled with soaring demand for passenger and cargo services amid the country's economic boom. Despite increases in airline fleets and new airports, air traffic corridors have become clogged around major cities and hubs.

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