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China Airlines
Founded 1959
Hubs Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
Focus cities Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Hong Kong International Airport
Kaohsiung International Airport
Frequent flyer program Dynasty Flyer
Member lounge Dynasty Lounge
Subsidiaries Mandarin Airlines
Fleet size 66 (+14 orders, 6 options)
Destinations 85 (incl. cargo)
Company slogan Journey with a caring smile
Parent company China Aviation Development Foundation
Headquarters Taipei, Taiwan (ending on March 26, 2010)
Dayuan Township, Taiwan (beginning on March 26, 2010)
Key people Wei, Philip Hsing-Hsiung (Chairman)
Sun, Huang-Hsiang (President)
Website ]]

China Airlines, Limited (Chinese: 中華航空公司 (pinyin: Zhōnghuá Hángkōng gōngsī), commonly abbreviated 華航) is the flag carrier of the Republic of China (commonly known as Taiwan and not to be confused with People's Republic of China, commonly known as "Mainland China"). The airline is not directly state-owned but is 54% owned by the China Aviation Development Foundation (中華航空事業發展基金會) which is owned by the Republic of China. Unlike other state-owned companies in the Republic of China, the chairperson of China Airlines does not report to the Legislative Yuan.

The airline, based at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and with headquarters in Taipei (the headquarters will move to Dayuan Township on March 26, 2010), flies to destinations in Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania. The airline started scheduled chartered flights between Taiwan and mainland China on July, 2008. Most flights serving this market are concentrated at Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing. China Airlines has operated the Hong Kong route since 1967 which is the airline's most profitable market, generating 13.3% of its NT$121.9 billion (US$ 3.7 billion) revenue in 2006 with over 140 flights flown a week between Taipei, Kaohsiung and Hong Kong[1].

The airline's main competitor is EVA Air. China Airlines is expected to become a full member of SkyTeam. Talks between the airline and the alliance started in 2007.[2]



Before the Chinese Civil War, there were three airlines operating in the Republic of China. One was Civil Air Transport, founded by General Claire L. Chennault and Whiting Willauer in 1946. The other two were joint ventures by the ROC government with Pan American World Airways and Lufthansa. As a result of the Chinese Civil War, the Communist Party of China took control of mainland China, and only Civil Air Transport moved along with the Kuomintang (KMT)-controlled ROC government to Taiwan.[citation needed]

With a fleet of two PBY Amphibians, China Airlines was established on December 16, 1959, with its shares completely held by the ROC government. It was founded by a retired air force officer and initially concentrated on charter flights. During the 1960s, China Airlines was able to establish its first domestic and international routes, and in October 1962, a flight from Taipei to Hualien became the airline's first domestic service. Growth continued and on December 1, 1966, Saigon, South Vietnam (now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) became the airline's first international destination. Trans-Pacific flights to San Francisco were initiated on February 2, 1970.[citation needed]

The next 20 years saw sporadic but far-reaching growth for the company. Routes were opened to Los Angeles, New York, Honolulu, Dhahran and Johannesburg, among others (China Airline's first European destination was Amsterdam). Jets were acquired, and China Airlines employed such planes as the Boeing 747 in its fleet. Later, the airline inaugurated its own round-the-world flight: (Taipei-Anchorage-New York-Amsterdam-Dubai-Taipei). 1993 saw China Airlines listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.[citation needed]

Change in Logo and Livery

As the flag carrier for the Republic of China, China Airlines has been affected by disputes over the political status of Taiwan, and under pressure from the People's Republic of China was barred from flying into a number of countries maintaining diplomatic relations with the PRC. As a result, in the mid-1990s, China Airlines subsidiary Mandarin Airlines took over some of its Sydney and Vancouver international routes. Partly as a way to avoid the international controversy, China Airlines unveiled its "plum blossom flower" logo, replacing the national flag, which had previously appeared on the tail fins (empennage), and the aircraft livery from the red-white-blue national colors on the fuselage of its aircraft, on October 7, 1995.[citation needed]

Throughout the 1990s, the airline employed many ex-ROC Air Force pilots. Due to the company's poor safety record in the 1990s, China Airlines began to change its pilot recruitment practices and the company began to actively recruit civilian-trained pilots with proven track records. In addition, the company began recruiting university graduates as trainees in its own pilot training program. The company also modified its maintenance and operational procedures. These decisions were instrumental in the company's improved safety record, culminating in the company's recognition by the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).[3]

Taiwan's political status proved to be a blessing in disguise for China Airlines in Japan. As Japan does not recognize Taiwan's independence, it did not allow China Airlines to use Narita International Airport. Instead, China Airlines used Tokyo International Airport (which is located within the special wards of Tokyo), an airport mainly used for domestic flights until April 18, 2002, when flights were transferred to Narita.[citation needed]

Some pro-Taiwan independence activists have sought to rename the airline "Taiwan Airlines", arguing that foreigners have in the past confused the airline with Air China and that "China" is not a representative name for an airline that has no scheduled flights to mainland China then. This is despite the fact that the word "China" in the airline's name actually means Zhōnghuá (中華), which refers to the Republic of China (中華民國; Zhōnghuá Mínguó) and which also refers to the Chinese culture or civilisation. This is opposed to the word Zhōngguó (中國), which would refer to the Chinese nation, and is commonly used to refer to the establishment in Beijing.

In late 2004, President Chen Shui-bian proposed the renaming of all state-owned enterprises bearing the name "China" to "Taiwan." Many consider his act as one of desinicization. This was opposed by the Pan-blue coalition, the opposition parties in the Taiwan legislature. The airline also voiced concern over its international operations, codeshare agreements and other commercial contracts. [1] The issue was dropped after the 2004 Legislative Yuan election when the pro-Chen Pan-Green Coalition failed to win a majority. In 2007, however, the issue resurfaced with the renaming of several state-owned companies such as Chunghwa Post, whose name was changed to Taiwan Post (a name that was reverted again to Chunghwa Post when the KMT won both the presidential and legislative 2008 elections) and CPC Corporation, Taiwan[4]

China Airlines has been reported to be in talks with the SkyTeam airline alliance regarding full membership.[citation needed]



As of November 2009 the China Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[5]

China Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Type Number of Aircraft Passenger Seats (F/J/C/Y)** Notes
Airbus A330-300 Short Haul
313 (-/36/-/277)
Long Haul
307 (-/30/-/277)
Airbus A340-300 6 276(-/30/-/246)
Airbus A350-900XWB 14 Order
6 Option
Boeing 737-800 10 158 (-/-/8/150)
Boeing 747-400 13 375 (12/49/-/314)

397 (14/-/64/319)

Embraer E190 Wet Leased 104 (-/-/-/104) Wet leased from Mandarin Airlines.

** F - First Class Seats, J - Dynasty Supreme Seats, C - Dynasty Class Seats, Y - Economy Class Seats.
☆ Operated as Mandarin Airlines. ☆☆ Operated by Mandarin Airines.

As of November 2009 the average age of the China Airlines fleet is 7.0 years. China Airlines has the world's largest fleet of Boeing 747-400Fs.

Two of their earliest 747-400s (B-18271 and B-18272) have been given to Boeing and converted to Boeing LCFs for transportation of 787 parts. In return, four new 747-400s were delivered to China Airlines. The livery of one of the new 747s (B-18210) is a combination of the China Airlines plum blossom tail and Boeing's Dreamliner colors design. These were the four last passenger 747-400s to be manufactured and delivered, and feature the Boeing Signature interior in common with the 747-400ER and most notably the Boeing 777.

In an interview with Taiwan's Economic Daily newspaper, China Airlines' CEO announced a cabin upgrade of all the airline's Boeing 747-400s in the second half of 2008, at a cost of around $7 billion Taiwan dollars. The 747-400s will be have two new configurations, with six in a two class configuration of Dynasty (Business) Class and Economy Class for flights to regional destinations in Asia and to Amsterdam, and the others in a three class configuration of First Class, Dynasty (Business) Class and Economy Class for long haul flights to America.[citation needed]

The airline is undergoing a fleet renewal and simplification program. The A300-600R has been replaced with the A330-300 and there are plans for a long-haul fleet renewal. Questioned about the airline's long haul fleet renewal plan, the CEO revealed that one model from Airbus and Boeing will be selected and evaluated, with China Airlines looking at Airbus's A380 and A350 and Boeing's 747-8 and 787. He has specified that the airline will not select the Boeing 777. China Airlines was reported to have decided on six Boeing 787s on July 18, 2007; however, this report, like the previous 747-8i reports, was quickly rejected by the airline. On December 11, 2007, China Airlines signed a letter of intent to purchase 20 Airbus A350-900s to replace their fleet of Airbus A340s, and the order was confirmed on January 22, 2008. The A350 will offer 2-class (Business and Economy) service with 327 seats.[6]



Cabin classes

Aircraft type First Class Cabin Dynasty Supreme or Dynasty Cabin Economy Cabin Notes
Airbus A330-300 N/A 36 shelled seats with 52" pitch and 140° recline. 277 seats with 31-32" pitch.
30 shelled seats with 63" pitch and 166° recline.
Airbus A340-300 N/A 30 seats with 60" pitch and 150° recline. 246 seats with 31-32" pitch. To be replaced by A350-900XWB in 2015.
Boeing 737-800 N/A 8 seats with 40" pitch and minimal recline. 150 seats with 31" pitch.
Boeing 747-400 14 seats with 83" pitch and 180° lie-flat sleeper. 64 seats with 47-50" pitch and 130° recline. 319 seats with 31-32" pitch. All aircraft to be renovated with dates undetermined.
12 suite seats with 83" pitch and 180° recline. 49 seats with 60" pitch and 140° recline. 314 seats with 31-32" pitch. B-18210 featured China Airlines plum blossom tail and Boeing's Dreamliner colors design.
Embraer E190 N/A N/A 104 seats with 31-32" pitch and minimal recline. Wet leased from Mandarin Airlines.

In-flight entertainment

  • "Fantasy Sky", the in-flight entertainment system, is available on all aircraft with Audio video on demand (AVOD). The AVOD system contains television shows, songs, video games, as well as aircraft exterior views (such as the nose wheel). The AVOD system is available in three languages: English, Japanese, and Mandarin. China Airlines intends to fit Fantasy Sky entertainment systems on all the B747-400s by the end of 2009.
  • DYNASTY is the China Airlines in-flight magazine. It has articles in English, Chinese and Japanese featuring local and international events, descriptive culture, social introductions, and personal interviews.
  • Sky Boutique is the duty free sales magazine.

In-flight catering

Dynasty Class dinner
  • Pre-flight drinks and mixed nuts are available in First, Dynasty Supreme, and Dynasty Cabin.
  • Alcohols and beverages are not offered on flights less than 180 minutes (only coffee, tea and water) in Economy class. Those drinks are available in the premium cabins regardless of flight duration.
  • Refreshments (also known as light meals) or Snack Boxes are offered on all international flights operated by China Airlines.

Dynasty Flyer

Dynasty Flyer is China Airlines' frequent flyer program. There are four tiers where three elite tiers are Gold, Emerald, and Paragon. Members can qualify for these elite tiers by earning enough air miles and/or segments within 12 calendar months. Elite members have more privileges such as access to the VIP Lounge, a higher checked baggage allowance, and being able to upgrade their ticket to a different cabin. All elite memberships last two year and soft landings are available.


The current China Airlines headquarters in Taipei - The airline will open its new headquarters in a different location

China Airlines has its headquarters in Songshan District, Taipei.[7][8]

On Friday, March 26, 2010, China Airlines will move into its new headquarters in Dayuan Township.[9] CAL Park, the 16,520 square metres (177,800 sq ft) (1.65 hectare) new headquarters facility, located near Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, will include all of China Airlines's passenger and cargo executive operations, aircraft operations, ground handling services, maintenance, and simulator training. The Novotel Taipei hotel will be on the property.[10] The nine story hotel will have 360 guest rooms.[11] On January 31, 2008 China Airlines began work CAL Park. the 4.5 billion New Taiwan dollar CAL Park was originally scheduled to open at the end of 2009.[12]

Currently China Airlines has operations at its headquarters, facilities on the east side of Taipei Songshan Airport, and at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. The airline will consolidate all of those functions in its new headquarters site. The airline will rent space in the six floors making up its former headquarters to tenants. The monthly rent will be $2,000 New Taiwan Dollars per ping. In September 2009 the airline estimated that it would make $7 million NTW in monthly rental income. Han Liang-zhong, a China Airlines vice president, said that the rental income would cover the bank loans that the airline borrowed to finance the construction of the CAL Park.[11] As a result of the headquarters move, China Airlines will develop part of the training center at Taipei Songshan Airport into a business aviation center.[13]

Codeshare agreements

As of May 2008 China Airlines has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:

In addition, China Airlines has a codeshare agreement with Deutsche Bahn.

Private bus services in the United States

In the United States China Airlines operates private bus services from airports with China Airlines flights to areas.[14]

The airline operates a bus to John F. Kennedy International Airport from Fort Lee, Parsippany-Troy Hills, and Edison in New Jersey and Chinatown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[15] The Taipei Times reported that passengers "highly appreciated" the China Airlines JFK bus service.[14]

The airline operates a bus to San Francisco International Airport from Milpitas and Cupertino in California.[16] The airline operates a bus to Los Angeles International Airport from Monterey Park and the Rowland Heights area of unincorporated Los Angeles County in California.[17]

Previously the airline operated free buses in Houston, Texas and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.[14]

Incidents and accidents

A CG render of B-18255, the Boeing 747 on China Airlines Flight 611 that disintegrated in mid-air. The 747-200 was the last one in the airline's fleet

Since 1970, the airline has averaged 6.44 fatal events per million flights,[18] while the worldwide average is under 1.5.[19]

  • August 12, 1970, Flight 206, a NAMC YS-11, struck a ridge while landing at Taipei, killing 14 people. This was the airline's first fatal accident.
  • November 20, 1971, Flight 825, a Caravelle aircraft, blew up after a bomb on it exploded, causing the deaths of 25 people over the Penghu Islands.
  • August 21, 1983, China Airlines flight 811, A Boeing 747 from Taipei, landed in Manila. Benigno Aquino Jr. the former senator in Philippines was assassinated after being escorted from the plane. The case is not yet solved.
  • February 19, 1985, China Airlines Flight 006, a Boeing 747SP, performed an uncontrolled descent over the Pacific Ocean resulting in substantial damage to the aircraft.
  • February 16, 1986, Flight 2265, a Boeing 737, crashed in Makung, Penghu, killing 13.
  • October 26, 1989, a China Airlines Boeing 737-200 crashed shortly after takeoff from Hualien, Taiwan. All 54 passengers and crew aboard were killed.
  • December 29, 1991, Flight 358, a Boeing 747 freighter, hit a hillside at Wanli, Taiwan after separation of its No.3 & 4 engines, killing five people.
  • November 4, 1993, Flight 605, a brand new Boeing 747-400, overran the Kai Tak Airport runway 13 while landing during a typhoon. It had touched down more than 2/3 down the runway and was unable to stop before the end of the runway, finishing up in Hong Kong harbor. All 396 people on board were safely evacuated but the aircraft was written off. The vertical stabilizer was dynamited away due to its interference with Kai Tak's ILS systems.
  • April 26, 1994, Flight 140, an Airbus A300, crashed while landing at Nagoya, Japan, killing 264 people.
  • February 16, 1998, Flight 676, an Airbus A300, crashed after a failed missed-approach at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in Taiwan, killing all 196 aboard along with 9 on the ground, including Taiwan Central Bank chief Hsu Yuan-Dong.
  • August 22, 1999, Flight 642, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, flipped over while landing at Hong Kong airport during a typhoon. Three people were killed.
  • May 25, 2002, Flight 611, a Boeing 747-200B, broke up in mid-air on the way to Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in Taiwan. All 206 passengers and 19 crew members died. The aircraft was the last 747-200 in China Airlines' fleet.
  • August 20, 2007, China Airlines Flight 120, a Boeing 737-800 inbound from Taipei caught fire shortly after landing at Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. After stopping on the tarmac, the engine started smoking and burning, and later exploded causing the aircraft to catch fire.[20] A statement from the airline confirmed that all passengers and crew members were safely evacuated, and a ground engineer knocked off his feet by the blast was unhurt.[21] The cause of the explosion has been attributed to a fuel leak caused by a bolt from the right wing slat puncturing the fuel tank.[22]


  1. ^ China Airlines
  2. ^ ATW Daily News
  3. ^ China Airlines
  4. ^ Ho, Jessie. "MOEA launches state-run name change campaign." Taipei Times. Saturday February 3, 2007. Retrieved on March 11, 2009.
  5. ^ "CAL at a Glance," China Airlines
  6. ^ China Airlines
  7. ^ "Investor Relations." China Airlines. Retrieved on May 20, 2009. "Address: No.131, Sec. 3, Nanjing E. Rd., Taipei City 104, Taiwan (R.O.C.)"
  8. ^ "Cargo." Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Retrieved on March 15, 2010. "Address: 12F., No.131, Sec. 3, Nanjing E. Rd., Songshan District, Taipei City 105, Taiwan (R.O.C.)."
  9. ^ "move.htm." China Airlines. Retrieved on March 15, 2010.
  10. ^ "Premier Liu Inspects Construction Progress at CAL Park and Novotel Taipei Taoyuan Hotel." China Airlines. April 17, 2009. Retrieved on September 29, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Staff. "CAL to inaugurate new HQ near Taoyuan airport." The China Post. Thursday September 10, 2009. Retrieved on March 15, 2010.
  12. ^ Karantzavelou, Vicky. "China Airlines breaks ground for future headquarters at Taoyuan International Airport at Travel Daily News, Thursday January 31, 2008. Retrieved on February 2, 2009.
  13. ^ Staff. "Plans for faster service at Songshan Airport: CAA." The China Post. July 5, 2009. Retrieved on March 15, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c "China Airlines releases special online promotions." Taipei Times. Friday August 17, 2007. Page 4. Accessed on December 25, 2008.
  15. ^ "Complimentary Bus Service Provided To/From JFK International Airport Terminal One." China Airlines. Retrieved on December 25, 2008.
  16. ^ "South Bay - SFO Int'l Airport Bus Service." China Airlines. Retrieved on December 25, 2008.
  17. ^ "Complimentary Bus Service to LAX." China Airlines. Retrieved on December 25, 2008.
  18. ^ Plane Crash News Plus Insights About Airline Safety and Airline Security
  19. ^ Plane Crash News Plus Insights About Airline Safety and Airline Security
  20. ^ "China Airlines Boeing 737-800 destroyed by fire". Flight Global. 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  21. ^ Debby Wu (2007-08-20). "165 Safe After Plane Explodes in Japan". The Guardian.,,-6864077,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  22. ^ Francis, Leithen (2007-08-24). "CAL 737-800 that caught fire had punctured fuel tank.". Flight Global. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 

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