A Chinese Boeing 737 had to postpone its landing at Wuhan airport as two air traffic controllers had fallen asleep.

The aircraft was poised to land at the airport in central China but received no reply from the air traffic control tower for 12 minutes. The China Eastern Airlines flight MU2528, from the southern tourist city of Sanya, landed safely after contact was was re-established.

"Because air traffic control was asleep on duty, (the plane) called many times," civil aviation authorities said in a statement quoted by Chinese business magazine Caijing and translated by AFP.

"But there was no reply, and no contact could be made with the control tower."

The incident took place on 8 July but the statement was made public on 29 July.