Air China was established and started operations on 1 July 1988. Formerly the Beijing-based international carrier division of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), it was renamed in 1988, when the government decided to split the operating divisions of CAAC into separate airlines, each with its own name. 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 28 October 2002, Air China consolidated with China National Aviation Corporation and China Southwest Airlines.
Air China's Airbus A340 taking off from Beijing Capital International Airport (Dec 2004)During 2004 as part of a consolidation of the Chinese aviation industry 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.
In March 2005, Air China was in talks with Swire Group, the largest shareholder of Cathay Pacific, for merger talks with Air China acquiring Cathay Pacific, and Cathay Pacific acquiring a majority stake of Dragonair. In return, the Swire Group would become the largest individual shareholder of Air China's parent company. Both airlines subsequently announced that the airlines will not merge completely in the foreseeable future, and Swire expressed its commitment in remaining as the largest shareholder of Cathay Pacific. It was also announced that Air China would cooperate with Cathay Pacific by codesharing flights in the late 2005, and would partner with Asia Miles in the second-half of 2005.
As of January 2005, Air China is owned by China National Aviation Holding Company (CNAH)(69%), public floatation (21%) and Cathay Pacific (10%). On May 22, 2006, Air China signed an agreement with Lufthansa and was officially invited to join Star Alliance, a rival airline alliance of Oneworld of which Cathay Pacific is a member. A few days later 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.
:: Air China Limited ("Air China") and its predecessor, the former Air China, were founded in 1988. According to the "Civil Aviation System Reform Program" which was approved and passed by the State Department in October 2002, the former Air China consolidated with China National Aviation Company and China Southwest Airlines and founded China Aviation Group Company. Based on the combined air transportation resources of the three entities, the new Air China Company was established. On September 30th, 2004, approved by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), Air China Limited was officially launched in Beijing, operating air transport services as its primary business and controlled by the China Aviation Group. On December 15th, 2004, Air China successfully listed in Hong Kong (SEHK: 0753) and London (LSE: AIRC).
Air China’s logo consists of an artistic Phoenix pattern, the Chinese name of the airline written in calligraphy by former national leader Mr. Deng Xiaoping, and "AIR CHINA" written in English. The phoenix logo is also an artistic transfiguration of the word "VIP". The color is the traditional Chinese red which implies auspiciousness, completion, peace and happiness, and expresses Air China's sincere passion to serve society and endlessly pursue safety. Air China holds its vision and orientation as “a well-established global airline”, the connotation of which is to realize four strategic objectives: leading competitiveness in the world market, continuously enhanced development potential, excellent and distinguished travel experiences for passengers, and steadily increasing profits. Its enterprise spirit emphasizes "serving the world with a warm heart and guiding the future by innovation". Its enterprise mission is to "meet the requirements of customers and create mutual value". Its enterprise sense of worth is to "deliver a high level of service and earn universal approval from the public". Its service philosophy is "Credibility, Convenience, Comfort and Choice".
Air China is China’s exclusive national flag carrier for civil aviation, a member of the Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, and it was the official airline partner of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It ranks first among domestic airline brands (evaluated by the World Brand Laboratory as having a brand value of RMB 61.885 billion in 2012) and it is leading ahead of its domestic competitors in passenger and freight air transport and related services.
Air China takes the responsibility of providing special flight services for Chinese national leaders visiting abroad, and foreign leaders and government officials visiting China, thus demonstrating the Airline’s exclusive status as the national flag carrier. Headquartered in Beijing, Air China has several branch offices such as Southwest, Zhejiang, Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hubei, Guizhou and Tibet, besides its base in Southern China and the Engineering & Technology branch. The main subsidiaries of Air China are Air China Cargo, Co., Ltd, Air Macau Co., Ltd, Shenzhen Airlines, Dalian Airlines and Beijing Airlines. Its major joint venture is Aircraft Maintenance & Engineering Corporation (Ameco). In addition, it also holds shares of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Shandong Airlines. It is the largest stockholder of Shandong Aviation Group Co. Ltd. Beijing Air Catering Co., Ltd., once controlled by Air China, now operates as a subsidiary of China National Aviation Co., Ltd., and was established on May 1, 1980 in Beijing as the first joint venture launched after the implementation of The Law of the PRC on Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures.
As of December 31, 2011, Air China (including holding companies) owns 432 Boeing and Airbus aircraft, with an average age of 6.77 years; operates a total of 282 passenger flight routes, including 71 international routes, 14 regional routes, and 197 domestic routes covering 30 countries and regions worldwide connecting 143 cities, including 43 international cities, 96 domestic cities and four regions. In cooperation with Star Alliance member airlines, its service network is further extended to 1,160 destinations in 181 countries.
Air China is committed to providing passengers with "Four Cs" service: Credibility, Convenience, Comfort and Choice. Air China PhoenixMiles, the frequent flyer program, has the longest history of any frequent flyer program in China. Air China was the first domestic civil airline to launch two classes of premium service, "Forbidden Pavilion" First Class and "Capital Pavilion" Business Class, on medium-to-long distance flights, featuring "lie-flat seats" and a "whole journey distinguished service" experience, which provides passengers with outstanding, comfortable and convenient travel space and considerate service. Air China enjoys a strong domestic and international route network and sales network, owns an extensive high-quality client group and has become the first choice for many clients from Chinese government organizations and companies. On June 28, 2011, Air China was awarded the 4-star rating by SKYTRAX - the international authority for accrediting airline services. On June 12, 2012, Air China was granted the Fast Travel Gold Award at the 68th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit.
Air China has a team of pilots and flight attendants with excellent business skills, precise work methods and good service delivery. Air China’s award-winning pilot team has received many prizes such as the "ICAO Medal of Honor ", "National Safe Production Advanced Unit", and the "Pilot Example of Safe Flight ". The team has created a world-class flight safety record: completing a successful polar flight, creating a miraculous 45-year safe flight record (beginning in 1965) on the Chengdu - Lhasa route, which was once regarded as a "restricted air zone" by the international civil aviation industry because of worldwide recognition for the high altitude flying difficulty, and performing successful night flights in 2008. Its cabin crew teams demonstrate the Company’s commitment to internationalization with the addition of professional and service dedicated native language speaking Japanese, Korean and German flight attendants. They consistently promote the "Four Cs" service of Credibility, Convenience, Comfort and Choice. Their service quality is well-known among passengers.
Air China aircraft have the benefit of specialized and standardized technical support. Air China has set-up an Engineering & Technology branch headquartered in Beijing, consisting of nine maintenance bases (in Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Hohhot, Shanghai, Guiyang, Wuhan, Guangzhou), four affiliate enterprises, 88 domestic maintenance sites and 73 international maintenance sites, forming a maintenance network across both the mainland and overseas. Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Corporation (Ameco Beijing),
China's first and largest aircraft maintenance company joint venture in aviation, was established on May 2, 1989, underscoring the importance of Air China’s maintenance initiative. Air China’s aircraft department has received maintenance licenses issued by the CAAC, FAA, EASA and authorities in 18 other countries, for services provided in seven major hangars using advanced equipment and facilities. With excellent maintenance strength, these work units have won Air China the approval and trust of more than 80 airlines around the world. From the end of the 1980s until now, Air China has achieved nearly 20 breakthroughs in domestic maintenance and more than 50 scientific and technological progress awards issued by national and provincial ministries.
Air China’s worldwide flights are under the control of the organizing and coordinating center. Computer flight planning systems collect information from aircraft performance databases, the global navigation database, global airport databases, and high altitude weather databases to optimize flight routes, develop flight plans, check aircraft performance, verify flight qualifications, and perform strict fight checks before taking-off. Air China has developed its own operation and management system, integrated with the satellite telephone systems, air-ground data communication systems and short-wave radio systems, and became the first domestic airline with remote monitoring capability.
Air China operates from the Beijing Capital International Airport offering a variety of ground services including passengers' entry, departure and transit services, special passenger services, two classes of premium service ("Forbidden Pavilion" First Class and "Capital Pavilion" Business Class), passenger luggage services, aircraft load balancing service, flight departure system service, tarmac loading and unloading services, cabin cleaning services and special equipment maintenance. Air China is also the launch carrier for self-service check-in and self-service baggage check-in, and the first airline to allocate dedicated terminal space for ground transportation support. In addition, Air China has introduced the “center loading distribution” system in 67 domestic terminals making it a pioneer among domestic Chinese airlines to use the "center loading distribution" method. Currently, Air China’s ground service provides support for 940 departure and arrival flights each day in Beijing, up to 1,026 flights on peak travel days, and 79 flights per hour during peak hours. With a variety of ground service equipment and facilities, over 2,300 special vehicles, and related assets valued at more than RMB 900 million (original cost value), this is the aviation ground service department with the largest scale and strongest capacity of all of China’s civil aviation industry.
Air China values personnel training. Its pilot training center has world-class training facilities, training levels and scales, combined with an excellent instructor team, rich teaching experience and first-class training equipment. Based at Tianjin Binhai International Airport, the center applies the most advanced real-plane training modes with one Boeing 737-300 aircraft dedicated to pilot training. The center assumes the education and management of Air China’s newly employed pilots. Its flight attendant training center is the first large-scale multi-function training base for flight attendants in China. The instructors in the center have the title of top grade flight attendants, IATA teaching qualifications and instructor qualifications approved by IATA CRM training. The center has trained more than 80,000 students for nearly 40 domestic and foreign airlines. It has also offered training services for many other sectors attracted by its superb training programs. Moreover, the University of Air China is being developed as a large-scale modern training base that will provide academic education.
Air China’s management has been improved significantly with increased profitability for seven consecutive years from 2001 to 2007, leading the civil aviation industry in China and bringing more value to the brand. For five consecutive years from 2007 to 2011, Air China was listed among the "top 500 global brands”, becoming the only Civil Aviation airline ever listed. In June 2012, Air China was rated 24th among China's 500 most valuable brands by the World Brand Laboratory, and the first in the domestic aviation service sector.
For five years in a row from 2004 to 2008, Air China earned "Customer Satisfaction Awards" and "Customer Satisfaction Gold Awards" based on "Passengers Opinions about Civil Aviation". The Air China brand has been jointly awarded one of "China's Top Ten International Brands" by the Financial Times of Great Britain and American McKinsey Management Consulting Company. It has been ranked as the "Best Chinese Airline" by industry magazines such as Business Journey and TTG for three consecutive years. It has won the title of "Top 25 Exemplary Brands of China--Brand China Huapu Annual Award". In December, 2011, Air China earned the "Chinese Brand Annual Award No.1 Air Service Sector" for the sixth consecutive year, coupled with a special "Chinese Culture Brand Award". In addition, Air China was named in various ranking lists as "Best Chinese Airline ", "Airline of the Year", "Pathfinder Award", "Best Corporate Image Award" and "Top Ten Chinese Economic Leaders".
Air China actively engages in social responsibilities, and always recognizes public responsibility as an integral part of its operation. Through its own sustainable development, Air China creates stable tax revenues and job opportunities for the country, actively participates in social practices and disaster relief, and makes great contributions to society. Air China's leadership has been awarded "Great Example of Building 'Team of Four Highlights' in National State-owned Enterprises" by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee and SAC Party Committee. Air China, together with the China Children and Teenagers’ Fund, co-sponsored the establishment of the "Children's Insurance Special Fund" to promote the healthy growth of children and adolescents in China. Air China accomplished the task with excellence to serve and support the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, setting many new records in Chinese civil aviation history. On September 29, 2008, the Party Central Committee and the State Council held a grand rally at the Great Hall to conclude the Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and gave out awards. Air China was honored as the "Advanced Unit in Beijing Olympics and Paralympics". During a variety of major natural disasters at home and abroad, as well as emergency transport missions, Air China organizes immediate transportation and performs its responsibility as a state-owned business regardless of the costs involved. From combatting the SARS outbreak in 2003 and helping in the 2008 snow disaster, to assisting in the Wenchuan, Yushu earthquake relief efforts in 2008 and 2009 as well as providing for assistance in the Haiti earthquake relief efforts in 2010, the 2011 Japan tsunami disaster and the emergency evacuation of Chinese personnel from Libya, Air China has always demonstrated its strong brand image as a government controlled enterprise.
Air China joined Star Alliance in December 2007. As a Star Alliance member and the only flag carrier of China, Air China operates a worldwide network of more than 6,000 flights every week from its hub in Beijing, linking 143 destinations in 30 countries and regions. Ranking the largest airline alliance in the world, Star Alliance was established in 1997 and has flights to 1290 airports in 189 countries. The Star Alliance network offers more than 21200 daily flights which means one aircraft takes off every five seconds. No matter which Star Alliance member airline frequent flyer program you belong to, you can accrue and redeem miles across all 27 airlines.