Air China, officially named: International Aviation Company of China, is China’s state airline. Its central offices are in Beijing and it is the second largest commercial airline, China Southern Airlines, being the largest of China. It is the flagship airline of China and the only airline that has the national flag on its entire fleet. It’s logo is a Phoenix formed by the letters of the term VIP. Their main headquarters is the Beijing International Airport.
The airline was founded and started its operations on July 1, 1988. Initially it was the transport division of the international civil aviation administration of China (CAAC) based in Beijing, and it was renamed in 1988, when the government decided to spin off the operating divisions of CAAC and the airlines separated, each with its own name.
Greater deregulation within aviation took place in 1994, allowing foreign direct investment in the airports and facilitating the import of aircraft built outside mainland China. For 1996 the country had 108 airports with regular services to airlines and close to 30 different airlines. On October 28 2002, The airline was consolidated with China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) and China Southwest Airlines.
During 2004 as part of a consolidation of the industry of Chinese aviation, The airline absorbed Zhejiang Airlines (a subsidiary of AASC). On 15 December 2004 the company placed its shares in the stock exchanges of Hong Kong and London. The airline has a stake in Air China Cargo (51 % ), air Macau (51 %) and also has the majority of the shares of Shandong Airlines.
In March 2005, The airline was in talks with Swire Group, the majority shareholder of Cathay Pacific, for The airline acquire Cathay Pacific, and in turn Cathay Pacific acquired a majority stake in Dragonair. In return, the Swire Group would become the largest shareholder in the subsidiary company of The airline. Both airlines announced subsequently that the airlines would not merge completely in the near future, and Swire expressed his intention to remain the majority shareholder of Cathay Pacific. Also it was announced that The airline will cooperate with Cathay Pacific with code-share flights by the end of 2005.
As of January 2005, The airline is owned by China National Aviation Holding Company (CNAH(69 % ), private investors (21 %) and Cathay Pacific (10 % ). On May 22, 2006, The airline signed an agreement with Lufthansa and was officially invited to join the Star Alliance, a rival of the One-world alliance, which Cathay Pacific is a member of. Some days later, on June 9 2006, a joint announcement revealed a new shareholder structure in which The airline will acquire a 17.5 percent share of Cathay, while it in turn will be the owner of 20 percent of the first.