China Airlines is the national airline of Taiwan (not to be confused with Air China, national company of the People’s Republic of China). Officially, the airlines is not a public company: this is the China Aviation Development Foundation who is the owner, and by an indirect link it is part of the government of Taiwan. Based at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the airline is a member of the SkyTeam alliance and serves more than a hundred destinations in Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania. It has a regional subsidiary, Mandarin Airlines, and a division dedicated to freight transport.
The airlines was founded by a retired officer of the Air Force of the Republic of China, Hsu Huang-Sheng, and inaugurated on December 16, 1959 with a fleet of 2 PBY Amphibians. The shares of the company were 100 per cent owned by the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and its activity was concentrated largely on charter flights. In 1960, the airline launched its first domestic and international routes: the first regular service of the company connects Taipei and Hualien in October 1962. The first international destination is Saigon in South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City in Viet-nam of our days) on December 1, 1966. The airline opened routes the following year to Hong Kong, and transpacific connections are launched February 2, 1970 with a service linking Taipei to San Francisco.
For twenty years, the airline has experienced a few major expansions of its network, including to the United States and Europe (Amsterdam was the first European destination of the company). In 1980, the airline launched a flight route for passengers to make a tour of the world (Taipei-Anchorage -New Tulip – Dubai-Taipei). This service is quickly suspended, but the airline retains the rights on this route. On October 6, 2008, the CEO of the airlines, WEI Hsing-Hsiung announced in a press conference that the company will resume this round the world route before the end of 2008. The airlines plans to operate the cargo flights every thursday ( Taipei-New York-Houston – Amsterdam-Dubai -Taipei) and every saturday ( Taipei-Nashville – Amsterdam-Dubai -Taipei). In 1993, the airlines was listed on the stock exchange of Taiwan.
As a national company of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the airlines has long been victim to political disputes related to the status of Taiwan, several countries prohibiting the landing of its aircraft under the pressure of the People’s Republic of China. Accordingly, the airline has established a subsidiary: Mandarin Airlines which in 1991 launched routes to Vancouver and Sydney, and in 1995 it changed its livery which for decades included the national flag of Taiwan: the image of a red Prunier flower replaced the national flag on the vertical tail, whereas the national colors blue-white-red appear on the fuselage.
Following the thaw in diplomatic relations between Taiwan and China, the airline launched in 2008 its first charter flights to the continent, where it serves Hong Kong (who was then the most profitable market of the company: in 2006, 13.3 per cent of the income of USD 3.7 billion is generated by the more than 140 weekly flights between Taipei, Kaohsiung and Hong Kong). The signing of an air traffic treaty between the two countries opens the valves to an avalanche of new routes, and in 2013 the airline serves about thirty cities in mainland China.
On September 14, 2010, China Airlines announced its arrival to he Skyteam alliance, which it officially integrated on September 18, 2011.