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 on Taiwan. The airline is not directly state-owned. However, it is owned by the China Aviation Development Foundation (中華航空事業發展基金會) which in turn is owned by the government of the Republic of China. Unlike other state-owned companies in the Republic of China, the chairman of China Airlines does not report to the Legislative Yuan.
The airline, based at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and with headquarters in Taipei, currently flies to destinations in Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania. Due to current politically motivated prohibitions on the Three Links, the airline does not operate regularly scheduled flights between Taiwan and mainland China. All flights serving this market are thus concentrated at Hong Kong, where it has operated since 1967. It 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.
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-controlled ROC government to Taiwan.
With a fleet of 2 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.
The next 20 years saw sporadic but far-reaching growth for the company. Routes were opened to Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris, 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.
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 international routes, e.g. Sydney and Vancouver. 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, and the red-white-blue national colors on the fuselage of its aircraft, on October 7, 1995.
Throughout the 1990s, the airline had the practice of employing 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. The company also began to actively recruit civilian-trained pilots with proven track records. In addition, the company began recruiting new 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.
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. On April 18, 2002, when flights were transferred to Narita.
In recent years, 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. 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. 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.
China Airlines has been reported to be in talks with the SkyTeam airline alliance regarding full membership. While neither the airline nor SkyTeam has made any official announcements, it is expected that China Airlines will join the alliance sometime in 2008. China Airlines would be the alliance's twelfth full member airline.
|Scheduled Routes (as of 26OCT08)||Notes|
|Airbus A330-300||17||313 (-/36/-/277)||From Taipei Taoyuan to: Hong Kong-Bangkok, Brisbane, Delhi, Fukuoka, Guam, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Tokyo Narita-Honolulu, Jakarta, Hong Kong-Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Nagoya, Osaka Kansai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo Narita, and Abu Dhabi-Vienna. From Kaohsiung to: Hong Kong.||Dynasty Supreme|
|Airbus A340-300||6||276 (-/30/-/246)||From Taipei Taoyuan to: Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Manila, Bangkok-Rome, Seoul Incheon, Tokyo Narita, and Vancouver.||Replacement aircraft: Airbus A350-900XWB |
Exit from service: 2015
|Airbus A350-900XWB||(14 orders) |
|327 (-/36/-/291)||Entry into service: 2015 |
Replacing: Airbus A340
|Boeing 737-800||11||158 (-/8/-/150) |
|From Taipei Taoyuan to: Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Hiroshima, Manila, Okinawa, Palau (regular scheduled flights begin 01DEC08), Penang, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Sapporo New Chitose, and various charter routes to Japan. From Kaohsiung to: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Nagoya, and Singapore.||To be transferred to Mandarin Airlines|
|Boeing 747-400||9||397 (14/64/-/319)||From Taipei Taoyuan to: Bangkok-Amsterdam, Beijing, Denpasar*, Hong Kong*, Los Angeles, Anchorage-New York JFK, San Francisco, Shanghai Pudong, and Tokyo Narita.|
|Boeing 747-400B||4||375 (12/49/-/314)||From Taipei Taoyuan to: Denpasar*, Hong Kong*, Frankfurt, Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita. Due to rotation, this aircraft may substitute 747-400 routes.||Cabin featuring PTV w/AVOD and new seats.|
|Embraer E190||1||96 (-/-/8/88)||From Kaohsiung to: Manila.||Wet leased from Mandarin Airlines.|
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 different new configurations, with 6 of the 15 planes in a two class configuration of Dynasty (Business) Class and Economy Class for flights to regional destinations in Asia and to Amsterdam, and the other 9 planes in a three class configuration of First Class, Dynasty (Business) Class and Economy Class for long haul flights to America.
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. However, analysts and the media have twice preemptively stated that China Airlines intends to order the Boeing 747-8i to replace their older 747-400s and Airbus A340-300s. China Airlines refuted the claims on both occasions. Prior to Lufthansa's becoming the launch customer for the 747-8i, it was strongly speculated that China Airlines could be a possible launch customer. 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 the Airbus 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 6 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 A340s, and the order was confirmed on January 22, 2008. The A350 will offer 2-class (Business and Economy) service with 327 seats. In addition, the China Airlines CEO revealed that all 737-800s would be transferred to Mandarin Airlines, which would become a larger-scale regional carrier.
In addition, China Airlines has a codeshare agreement with Deutsche Bahn.
The services include: