Air China Ltd (, ) (Pinyin: Zhōngguó Guójì Hángkōng Gōngsī, literally "Chinese International Aviation Company", abbreviated 国航) is the People's Republic of China's state owned and second-largest commercial airline after China Southern Airlines. It is the flag carrier and the only airline to fly the national flag on its entire fleet. Its logo consists of a phoenix in the form of the acronym VIP, and "Air China" in both English and Chinese, which was autographed by Deng Xiaoping. It operates 5,090 flights each week worldwide and is also the 18th largest airline in the world by fleet size.
Air China's main hubs are Beijing Capital International Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport, with other focus cities at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, Tianjin Binhai International Airport and Hohhot Baita International Airport. Out of all Asian airlines, Air China currently flies to approximately 120 destinations; the most destinations from its own Beijing hub.
The airline flew 33.97 million passengers in 2006, with a passenger load factor of 75.9%. In the same year, it made a profit of 2.7 billion yuan, with an operating revenue of 44.9 billion yuan and total expenses standing at 42.4 billion yuan.
It is the 4th largest airline in Asia, 5th largest in the world in terms of domestic cargo traffic and 17th largest airline in the world by terms of fleet size.
At the time of its launch 1988, Air China had 6,000 employees and served 31 international and 30 domestic destinations. It was China's largest airline company and the national flag carrier. In 1989, Air China posted a net profit of $106 million on revenues of $383 million. In that same year, Air China entered a joint venture with Lufthansa, which provided 40 percent of the capital, or $220 million, to create the Beijing Aircraft Maintenance Center (Ameco Beijing). It specialized in the upkeep of the Boeing aircraft that comprised Air China's fleet. The venture was expanded with another $218 million (¥n1.2 billion) in 1992. Ameco Beijing employed nearly 4,000 people, a little fewer than 50 of them from Lufthansa. Air Transport World reported the company preferred to source its needs through joint ventures due to the country's lack of hard currency. Its Beijing Air Catering was 40 percent owned by a large Hong Kong caterer.
Early in 2000, Air China teamed with China National Aviation Co. Group (CNAC), the CAAC's Hong Kong-listed commercial arm, to establish a Hong Kong branch (95% owned by Air China). Direct flights to London from Hong Kong soon began. Air China faced competition at its home base from Air France, which increased its four flights a week to Beijing, begun in 1997, to daily service. British Airways also wanted to increase its frequencies (it was operating 18 flights a week to China).
In January 2001, the CAAC's ten airlines announced they had agreed on a merger plan. Air China was to acquire China Southwest Airlines and China International Airlines, the country's fourth strongest domestic airline. This was to create a group with assets of ¥n56 billion (HK$ 52.5 billion), including 118 aircraft. On October 28, 2002, Air China consolidated with China National Aviation Corporation and China Southwest Airlines.
During 2004, Air China absorbed Zhejiang Airlines (a subsidiary of CNAC). On 15 December 2004 the company listed its shares on the Hong Kong and London Stock Exchanges. Air China has shareholdings in Air China Cargo (51%), Air Macau (51%) and also holds majority shares of Shandong Airlines. On June 9, 2006, a joint announcement revealed a new shareholding structure in which Air China will acquire a 17.5% stake in Cathay Pacific, while the latter will own 20% of the former.
There are still ongoing plans for further consolidation of the Chinese airline industry and Air China will likely continue to play an important part in these plans.
It currently operates a significant number of Asian, Australian and European destinations from Shanghai Pudong International Airport. This will also extend to North America when it adds an additional San Francisco service, complementing its service from Beijing and complementing United Airlines codeshares on the route. It also has some international routes operating and connecting from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport, Dubai International Airport, Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, Kunming Wujiaba International Airport, Madrid Barajas International Airport, Nanning Wuxu International Airport and Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport.
Today, Air China is increasing its international presence, starting service on 13 new routes between 2008/9. Recently, Air China has upgraded service to Vancouver with an A330-200. After the launch of the new Beijing-Dubai-Athens route, it is considering upgrading the route with A330-200. Service to Warsaw, Poland nonstop from Beijing will be historic, as Air China will be the first international airline to opearte long haul flights to Warsaw, besides LOT, a Star Alliance partner, offering 7 flights per week instead of LOT's 3 (end June 2008).
|Beijing-Xiamen-Jakarta||Boeing 737-700||2 Weekly|
|Beijing-San Francisco||Boeing 747-400 Combi||5 Weekly|
|Beijing-Frankfurt (CA 965/6)||A330-200||5 Weekly|
|Beijing-Shanghai-Sendai||Boeing 737-300||4 Weekly|
|Beijing-Kunming-Yangon||Boeing 737-700||3 Weekly|
|Beijing-Macau (Seasonal)||Boeing 737-800||Daily|
|Beijing-Bangkok (Seasonal 2md Daily)||Boeing 737-800||Daily|
|Chengdu-Bangkok||Boeing 737-600||5 Weekly|
On December 10, 2006, it made its first flight to São Paulo (via Madrid), which became its first South American destination. The service began with the Boeing 767-300 aircraft but because of its popularity, the service has been upgraded to A330-200. However, Air China ended service to Sao Paulo in September 2008. This was Air China's longest route.
Routes to Australia, Frankfurt, Madrid currently operated by Airbus A330-200 may be replaced by Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The Boeing 787 Dreamliners will be used on flights to Toronto and Washington, D.C. when they are launched.
Air China is launching many flights to European destinations, as it believes these services will become very popular in the coming years. The airline has already stated they are happy to make losses on these routes at first, but hopefully they will build up a good brand image in Europe, so as to make them a premier choice for those flying to China.
|Airbus A319-100||33 |
|128 (8/120)||Domestic, Asia|
|Airbus A320-200||6||164 (8/156)||Domestic, Asia|
|Airbus A321-200||6 |
|Airbus A330-200||19 |
|283 (12/271) |
|Domestic, Sydney, Melbourne, Frankfurt, |
Paris, Vancouver, Madrid, Hong Kong,
London (seasonal), Stockholm, Dubai, Athens, Munich.
|Features new business class |
Two in Star Alliance Livery (B-6091, B-6093)
|Airbus A340-300||6||255 (8/28/219)||Domestic, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, London-Heathrow (seasonal)||Features new first and business class|
|Boeing 737-300||41||128 (8/120)||Domestic, Fukuoka, Ho Chi Minh, Osaka, Pyongyang.|
|Boeing 737-600||6||110 (8/102)||Domestic|
|Boeing 737-700||20||126 (8/118)||Domestic, Asia|
|Boeing 737-800||46 |
|167 (8/159)||Domestic, Asia||B-5176 in Olympic livery|
|Boeing 747-400||4||344 (10/42/292) |
|Domestic, Shanghai, Frankfurt, New York-JFK||Features new first and business class|
|Boeing 747-400M||8||307 (18/40/249) |
|Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris-CDG, Rome-Fiumicino, Frankfurt, London (Seasonal)||Being retrofitted to feature new first and business class|
|Boeing 757-200||12||200 (8/192) 201 (8/193)||Domestic, Asia|
|Boeing 767-200ER||3||214 (18/196)||Domestic, Dubai||To be phased out by 2008|
|Boeing 767-300||3||225 (10/26/189)||Southeast Asia||To be phased out by 2010|
|Boeing 767-300ER||3||225 (10/26/189)||Delhi, Singapore||To be phased out by 2010|
|Boeing 777-200||10||345 (49/296) |
|Domestic, Seoul-Incheon, Tokyo-Narita, Singapore, Munich, Moscow|
|Boeing 777-300ER||(15 orders)||Unknown||Los Angeles, New York-JFK, San Francisco, Frankfurt, Warsaw (When Launched)||Entry: 2011|
|Boeing 787-8||(15 orders)||Sydney, Toronto, Washington DC, Warsaw (When Launched)||Entry into service: Fourth Quarter 2009|
As of January 2008, Air China's average fleet age was 7.8 years old.
While Boeing's orders page for 2006 reflects this order, there have been no formal news releases indicating the following:
Air China officially joined Star Alliance on December 12, 2007. This move greatly expanded the Alliance's presence in China.
With the Alliance's "Under One Roof" initiative, all Star Alliance members have moved their operation to the Terminal 3 of the Beijing Capital International Airport, Air China's main international hub. This new terminal is divided into 3 sections, with T3C housing all domestic flights operated by Air China and Shanghai Airlines and T3E housing all Star Alliance international flights. The two sections are connected by a high-speed inter-terminal train.
As of April 2008, Air China had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
Air China Companion is the frequent flyer program for Air China. This is the first frequent flyer program to be launched in China. It was designed to allow frequent flyers travelling internationally and domestically with Air China and its partner airlines.
Members earn accumulated mileage points for awarded tickets on Air China and other partner flights. There are flight mileages and partner mileages. Flight mileages are for members flying with Air China while partner mileages are for members taking Partner Airlines of Air China. The companion card may be upgraded to VIP status. There are special redemption rates for VIP members Gold card members and Platinum card Members.