Taiwan’s flag-carrier and largest airline, China Airlines 中華航空公司, becomes the 15th member of the global airline alliance, SkyTeam 天合聯盟, today at a ceremony held in Taipei 臺北, Taiwan. Founded in 1959, China Airlines is based out of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport 臺灣桃園國際機場 (TPE), formerly known as Chiang Kai-shek International Airport 中正國際機場. China Airlines’ passenger fleet consists of Airbus A330-300, Airbus A340-300, Boeing B737-800, and Boeing B747-400. It also operates 19 freighter Boeing B747-400F as China Airlines Cargo. Currently China Airlines flies to 99 destinations (including cargo) in 29 countries and territories in Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and Taiwan.
China Airlines 中華航空 (NOT to be confused with Air China 中國國際航空, PRC’s flag-carrier***) is the third airline in the Greater China region to join SkyTeam, after China Southern Airlines 中國南方航空 and China Eastern Airlines 中國東方航空, and is the first airline in Taiwan to join an airline alliance. China Airlines’ main rival, EVA Airways 長榮航空, applied to join Star Alliance 星空聯盟 at the end of 2010.
Other SkyTeam member airlines that fly to Taiwan include (not including code-share flights): China Eastern Airlines 中國東方航空 (13 cities in PRC), China Southern Airlines 中國南方航空 (13 cities in PRC), Delta Air Lines 達美航空 (Tokyo-Narita, Detroit via Tokyo), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 荷蘭皇家航空 (Bangkok, Amsterdam via Bangkok), Korean Air 大韓航空 (Seoul-Incheon), and Vietnam Airlines 越南航空 (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City).
Also revealed at the ceremony today was a Boeing B747-400 in SkyTeam livery, the first one of the aircraft type. China Airlines also completely refreshed its brand image, integrating the “Plum Blossom 紅梅揚姿” trademark and “Chinese Seal 中國印”. The “Plum Blossom” livery was adapted in 1996 when China Airlines was forced to change the livery with the Republic of China Flag printed on the tail due to political pressure. Due to the unsatisfactory results produced by using stickers on the tail for the flower, all “Plum Blossom” on the tails of China Airlines’ fleet were painted manually.
***For reason on why Taiwan’s flag-carrier is called “CHINA” Airlines, please read Taiwan the Complicated for information about the Republic of China 中華民國, commonly known as Taiwan 臺灣 or ROC, and its conflict with People’s Republic of China 中華人民共和國, commonly known as China or PRC.