Air China (Chinese: 中国国际航空公司, Zhōnggu� Gu�j� H�ngkōng Gōngsī, literally "Chinese International Aviation Company", abbreviated 国航) is the People's Republic of China's state owned and largest commercial airline (not to be confused with China Airlines, which is the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s state airline), and the only airline to fly the PRC national flag on its entire fleet. Its logo is a phoenix in the form of the abbreviation VIP.
Air China was setup in 1988 upon the sub-division of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to fly international routes although it also operated a few domestic sectors. Its main hub is Beijing Capital International Airport. Further deregulation of the aviation business took place in 1994, enabling foreign investment in airports and facilitating the import of aircraft built outside mainland China. By 1996 the country had 108 airports with scheduled airline services and around 30 different airlines.
On April 15, 2002, Air China flight 129, a Boeing 767-200ER jet from Beijing to Busan, crashed into a hill while trying to land at Gimhae International Airport during inclement weather, killing 128 of the 166 people on board. To date, this has been Air China's lone blemish in its safety record.
During 2004 as part of a consolidation of the Chinese aviation industry Air China absorbed China Southwest Airlines and Zhejiang Airlines. In December the company listed its shares on the Hong Kong and London Stock Exchanges. It also holds majority shares of Shandong Airlines.
Air China's fleet is predominantly sourced from Boeing although some airliners have been acquired from Airbus, including examples of the long range A340. Five of the airline's Boeing 747 fleet are cargo-carrying aircraft. A couple of Lockheed Hercules aircraft superseded Antonov 12s in the freighter role. Four British Aerospace 146 "Whisperjet" passenger aircraft were returned to the United Kingdom during 2003 and are parked at Southend Airport in Essex.
Air China's current fleet (as of April 2005) consists of the following:
- 15 Airbus A319-100 [4 more on order]
- 5 Airbus A320-200
- 6 Airbus A340-300
- 38 Boeing 737-300 (Two other B733s were recently retired from commercial service and are now used for training purposes only)
- 6 Boeing 737-600
- 8 Boeing 737-700
- 17 Boeing 737-800
- 4 Boeing 747-200F (Freighter)
- 4 Boeing 747-400
- 8 Boeing 747-400M (Combi)
- 1 Boeing 747-400F (Freighter)
- 13 Boeing 757-200
- 5 Boeing 767-200ER (Extended Range)
- 4 Boeing 767-300
- 5 Boeing 767-300ER (Extended Range)
- 10 Boeing 777-200
Currently, Cathay Pacific holds 10% stake of Air China.
In March 2005, An article says Air China was in talks with Swire Group, the largest shareholder of Cathay Pacific, for merger talks that Air China is going to swallow Cathay Pacific, and Cathay Pacific acquiring a majority stake of Dragonair, in return for the Swire Group becoming the largest individual shareholder of Air China's parent company. However, Air China and Cathay Pacific has announced that they won't merge together in the future and Swire is remaining to be the largest shareholder of Cathay Pacific.
International Airlines Alliance -- Star Alliance or Oneworld?
However, Air China cooperates with many Star Alliance members including United Airlines and Lufthansa. Star Alliance might be suitable for Air China too. As of December, 2004 they are said to be in negotiations to join Star Alliance.
In June 2005, Air China's chairman Lee JiaXiang says Cathay Pacific being one of its share holder does not affect the carrier's alliance strategy. Lee participated the bi-annual Star Alliance meeting in Nagoya, held on June 2, 2005.
- Air China
- Air China Fleet Detail
- Air China Passenger Opinions
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