On the 16th of December, 1959, China Airlines was founded by a retired air force officer. Its shares were completely held by the ROC government and its fleet consisted of two PBY Amphibians.
In October 1962, a flight from Taipei to Hualien became the airline’s first domestic service, and growth continued during the 1960s with the introduction of additional destinations, such as Saigon, South Vietnam, in December, 1966 – the first international destination of China Airlines.
On the 2nd of February, 1970, China Airlines started to operate transpacific flights to San Francisco.
In the next two decades, various new routes were opened, including international destinations like Los Angeles, New York, London or Paris, and China Airlines was listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in 1993.
In 1995, China Airlines introduced the ‘plum blossom’ logo along with a new corporate identity.
In 2000, new branch offices of China Airlines were established in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Guam.
In 2001, China Airlines received its first Airbus A340 passenger jet. At China Airlines’ demand, the new aircraft is configured into three classes (First, Dynasty and Economy) with 258 seats.
In 2002, as part of its fleet renewal and simplification program, China Airlines placed firm orders for 12 Airbus A330s series and 6 Boeing 747-400 with delivery from 2004 to 2007.
In 2004, China Airlines took delivery of a new B747-400 passenger aircraft, the first 747-400 equipped with Boeing’s next-generation Signature Interior.
In 2005, China Airlines celebrated 35 years of service to the US and 10 years of service to Rome. China Airlines was the first Asian carrier to fly the trans-Pacific route, in February 1970, between Taiwan and the US.
In 2008, China Airlines signed Memorandum of Cooperation with China Southern Airlines an announced cooperation with Hainan Airlines on Frequent Flyer Programs.
In 2009, China Airlines was the first airline in Taiwan to obtain the top-level «Reasonable Assurances Certification».
In 2010, China Airlines inaugurated passenger routes from Taipei to Miyazaki, Qingdao and Songshan to Hongqiao, Haneda, from Kaohsiung to Xiamen, Narita.
In 2011, China Airlines became the first Taiwanese airline to join SkyTeam and launched codeshare cooperation with China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines, as well as new routes (Taipei-Brisbane-Auckland, Taipei-Wuhan, Taipei-Osaka-New York).
In 2012, China Airlines brought back into service nine retrofitted Boeing 747-400 aircraft upgraded with all-new cabins. China Airlines has retrofitted all cabin facilities, including ergonomic seats and an advanced video system in all classes, in order to provide passengers with a more spacious and comfortable journey.
In 2013, China Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, China Eastern and China Southern launched the Greater China Connection program. The four airlines in the Greater China region will share resources to establish a common set of Cross-Strait membership services. Travelers holding a frequent flyer card with any of the four airlines can now enjoy privileges with all four airlines.
From December 2014, China Airlines will introduce a brand new Premium Y Class.
In July 2015, China Airlines terminated First Class service, although the hardware product (12 flat-bed First Class seats) is still offered on the Boeing 747 aircraft (the nose section) but marketed as Business Class seats.
In September 2016, China Airlines received its first Airbus A350-900XWB, featuring the second version of NexGen China Airlines cabin design. China Airlines has placed firm orders for 14 Airbus A350-900XWB aircraft, and these should replace the Airbus A340-300s in use. In June 2017, the final Airbus A340-300 was retired.
In December 2017, after upgrading all its European routes to nonstop services, China Airlines launched service to London Gatwick Airport.The new A350 fleet will operate 4 flights a week, China Airlines being the only airline in Taiwan to offer non-stop flights to London.
In March 2018, China Airlines will begin daily scheduled service on Taipei Taoyuan – Ontario route, operated by Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
From 2015 to 2020, China Airlines focuses on its plan to strengthen and expand its long-haul network that includes considering launching new destinations in Europe, such as Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, and Prague, as well as in North America, such as Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Toronto.
First fatal accident involving a China Airlines aircraft happened in August, 1970, when a NAMC YS-11 struck a ridge while landing at Taipei, killing 14 people, while the last one took place on the 25th of May, 2002, Flight 611 broke up in mid-air on the way to Hong Kong, and all 225 people on board perished.