China Airlines (CAL) got its start shuttling supplies to insurgents on the Thai-Burmese border. Now the company's fleet of more than 65 aircraft, including Boeing and Airbus jets, flies passengers and freight to about 90 cities in Australia, Asia (including Mainland China), Europe, and North America from its hub in Taiwan. Some destinations are served via code-sharing agreements with partners such as Air France-KLM, Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, and Korean Air. (Code-sharing allows carriers to sell tickets on one another's flights and thus extend their networks.) Mandarin Airlines is a subsidiary. CAL was founded by retired military pilots in 1959 with a fleet of two seaplanes.
To grow, China Airlines has been working to upgrade its aircraft fleet and to add new destinations for both passenger and cargo flights, primarily in the Asia/Pacific region but also in Europe and North America.
Cargo operations contribute a significant portion of China Airlines' sales, and the company's fleet includes about 20 freighter aircraft. A milestone for the company's cargo business came in 2006, when China Airlines made its first direct cargo flight to mainland China.
The Taiwanese government has restricted direct connections to the mainland because of security concerns, so flights between Taiwan and China have had to stop in Hong Kong or Macau. Direct passenger flights have been allowed during holidays, and business groups have been pushing for unrestricted direct connections. Some progress on that front came in 2008, when the governments of China and Taiwan moved to allow regular direct charter flights between the nations. China Airlines and mainland-based, government-controlled China Southern Airlines are cooperating on a plan to offer the direct flights, which will have to pass through Hong Kong's airspace.