China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空, commonly abbreviated 華航) is the state-owned airline of the Republic of China and is based in Taipei, Taiwan (not to be confused with Air China, which is owned by the People's Republic of China).
The airline flies out of Chiang Kai Shek International Airport.
China Airlines currently flies to many destinations in Asia, Europe, North America and the South Pacific. Because of political obstacles due to the establishment of the three links, it does not have regularly scheduled flights into mainland China, and passengers to mainland China must to through Hong Kong, and transfer into another airline. In recent years, the airline has had to struggle with the negative public perception caused by a string of major crashes. Its main competitor is EVA Airlines.
It was established in 1959, with a total fleet of 2 PBY Amphibians. During the 1960s, China Airlines was able to establish its first domestic and international routes and in 1962, a flight from Taipei to Hualien became the airline's first domestic service. Growth continued and by 1966, service to Hanoi, (now Ho Chi Minh City) began, Vietnam thus becoming the airline's first international destination.
The next 22 years saw sporadic but large growth for the company. Routes were opened to Los Angeles International Airport, JFK International Airport, London Heathrow Airport and Charles De Gaulle International Airport among others. Jets were acquired, and China Airlines enjoyed such planes as the Boeing 747 on their fleet. Unfortunately, all the progress did not come without setbacks, and in 1970, August 12 became the first dark day in the history of the airline, when a YS-11 of the airline struck a ridge while landing at Taipei, killing 14 people. In 1971, a Caravelle airplane of China Airlines blew up after a bomb in it exploded, causing the deaths of 25 people over the Penghu Islands.
In 1985 a China Airlines 747 at San Francisco International Airport suffered engine trouble and two people were injured, and in 1986 another China Airlines Boeing product, this time a 737, crashed in Makung, Penghu. That time 13 people lost their lives.
In 1991 at Wanli, Taiwan, another China Airlines 747 hit a hillside after major engine trouble, killing five people.
1993 saw China Airlines listed in the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
In 1994 an Airbus A300 of the airline crashed at Nagoya, Japan, and 264 people died. This accident happened during landing. Searching for a fresh new identity, China Airlines in 1995 introduced the Blossoming Flower tail logo (replacing the ROC national colors) that has now reached worldwide fame among airline passengers.
In 1998 another tragedy had to be overcome when another China Airlines A300 crashed during landing in Taipei, killing 204.
In 2002, China Airlines Flight 611 broke up in midflight on the way to Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong from Chiang Kai Shek International Airport in Taiwan. All of the passengers and crew on board perished.