China Airlines join SkyTeam

China Airlines, the national flag carrier of Taiwan, will join the SkyTeam airline alliance on September 28 2011.

The airline will become the 15th member of the global airline confederation which currently includes Air France, Delta Airlines and KLM.

It’s most fitting that China Airlines is joining the prestigious SkyTeam alliance this year because we are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of CI services between Taiwan and Australia in 2011, said Jim Wong, the airlines’ Sydney-based Sales Manager.

The new commercial agreement will have significant benefits for Australian passengers travelling on China Airlines.

For instance, Taipei will become a SkyTeam hub which means seamless global connections on partner airlines using the capital’s Taoyuan International Airport, he said.

In addition passengers will be able to avail of various pre departure benefits including single desk check-in and access to VIP lounges as well as consistent in-flight service, a generous frequent flyer programme and a variety of corporate travel benefits, he added.

Founded in 2000 by Aeromexico, Air France, Delta Airlines and Korean Air, SkyTeam is the last of three major airline alliances to be formed but it has grown to become the second largest airline grouping in the world in terms of passenger numbers and alliance members.

With the inclusion of China Airlines in late September, SkyTeam will consist of 15 carriers from four continents.

As of June, SkyTeam member airlines fly to 916 airports in 169 countries.  They operate more than 14,000 flights a day utilising a combined fleet of 3900 aircraft including those of associate carriers.

In addition, the alliance has 465 lounges around the world to serve its 474 million annual passengers.
China Airlines has four flights a week linking Sydney with Taipei.  Monday/Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday CI 052 flights leave Sydney at 2210 and arrive in Taipei at 0540 the next morning.

The timing is very convenient for passengers heading on to popular CI destinations in the region like Hong Kong, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City as well as long haul ports such as Vancouver, New York, London, Vienna, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

Australian passengers from Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide are provided with complimentary QANTAS domestic flights to connect with the four weekly CI flights ex Sydney and three weekly CI flights ex Brisbane.

The SkyTeam alliance has taken another step forward in cementing its place in the fast-growing North Asian aviation market by adding China Airlines, Taiwan’s largest carrier and the world's seventh largest cargo carrier (by international scheduled FTKs - or eighth largest by total system FTKs), to the fold on 28-Sep-2011. China Airlines' entry comes just three months after China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines joined the grouping in Jun-2011. China Airlines will be the first Taiwanese carrier to join a global alliance, with rival EVA Air remaining unaligned.

China Airlines will become the 15th member of the SkyTeam airline alliance (see Appendix for full list of alliance groupings). By joining SkyTeam, the Taiwanese carrier will expand its international coverage nine-fold via codesharing to 926 destinations in 173 countries across 14,000 services from the current 1010 destinations in 29 countries.

The carrier stated it hopes to reduce operation costs by at least 0.5% or around TWD1 billion (USD32.89 million) in the first year of membership in the alliance. The carrier also expects to boost revenues through enhanced codeshare operations with alliance members. "The ability to make more flexible flight arrangements might bring us TWD1 billion to TWD2 billion in additional revenue during the same period," Chin Airlines President Sun Hung-hsiang said. In addition, Mr Sun stated the carrier would will seek for further cooperation with countries such as Japan, Thailand and Vietnam to extend its cargo flight service in these regions to the United States and European countries.

The Taipei-based carrier stated it has taken 11 years to gain approval from each of the current SkyTeam members to enter the alliance. "The membership will elevate our global presence, especially in the China region," said Jessica Pan, the airline's public relations manager. Commenting on the alliance membership, China Airlines Chairman Chia-Juch Chang stated that joining SkyTeam is "an integral part of our strategy for increased international growth and profitability".

China Airlines brings a surge in connectivity but just three new destinations to the SkyTeam network: Okinawa and Miyazaki in Japan and Surabaya in Indonesia. From its hub in Taipei, one of Asia’s strongest economies, China Airlines operates a diverse passenger and cargo network throughout the wider Asia pacific region, North America and Europe, with a total of 224 daily departures to 80 destinations worldwide, SkyTeam noted.

SkyTeam increases presence in Taiwanese market by over five-fold

By joining the SkyTeam alliance, China Airlines has increased by over five-fold the grouping's share of total weekly seat capacity to/from/within in Taiwan from 6.1% to 31.8%...

By joining the SkyTeam alliance, China Airlines has increased by over five-fold the grouping's share of total weekly seat capacity to/from/within in Taiwan from 6.1% to 31.8%. The next biggest alliance in Taiwan is oneworld (12.2%), as oneworld member Cathay Pacific is the third largest carrier operating in the Taiwanese market with some 89,000 weekly seats.

Around 45.8% of total weekly seats in Taiwan remains unaligned to a global grouping, as Taiwan’s second largest carrier, EVA Air, is not a member of an alliance. 

NB: The colours of the following graphs default to light blue for the largest group, yellow for second largest, green for third, red for fourth and navy blue for fifth.

Taiwan total capacity (seats) share (%) by alliance: Sep-2011






SkyTeam has gained a major boost at Taipei Taoyuan, Taiwan’s largest airport handling 80.5% of the nation’s international seats and 59.5% of total system seats. SkyTeam’s share of total weekly seats has soared from just 1.5% to 40.6%, with oneworld trailing with a 16.3% share and Star Alliance having only a 1.5% share at the airport. China Airlines is the largest operator at Taipei Taoyuan, with over 206,000 weekly seats at present based on Innovata data, or a third of the total.  

Taipei Taoyuan total capacity (seats) share (%) by alliance: Sep-2011






SkyTeam's position at Taiwan’s second largest international airport, Kaohsiung, has also increased strongly, from 3.2% to 20.3%. China Airlines is the third largest carrier at Kaohsiung, after TransAsia and Hong Kong-based Dragonair (a Cathay Pacific subsidiary).

Kaohsiung total capacity (seats) share (%) by alliance: Sep-2011






At Taipei’s second airport, Taipei Songshan, SkyTeam’s presence has increased from 1.8% to 11.0%. Songshan is the nation’s third largest airport, with 7.4% capacity (seats) share and the nation’s second largest airport by system capacity (seats) handling 12.7% of total system capacity. China Airlines is the fourth largest airline at Taipei Sonshan, after UNI Airways (a regional subsidiary of EVA Air), TransAsia and Mandarin Airlines, China Airlines’ regional and domestic subsidiary, but ahead of EVA Air.

Taipei Songshan total capacity (seats) share (%) by alliance: Sep-2011






SkyTeam the dominant alliance in China, North Asia and Asia Pacific

The impact is not just confined to Taiwan. In China, where SkyTeam was already strong and China Airlines has an enlarged presence thanks to progressive cross-Strait liberalisation, its share has increased slightly from 38.2% to 38.5%. China Airlines complements the network of existing members, China Southern and China Eastern, and offers an extensive cross-Strait network to 20 major destinations in Mainland China. Star Alliance member Air France has previously stated that with the arrival of China Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and China Eastern into the alliance in 2011, a total of 135 destinations will be offered by SkyTeam in Greater China alone.

China total capacity (seats) share (%) by alliance: Sep-2011






In the crucial North Asian region, SkyTeam has slightly extended its dominance, with its capacity share in the region increasing from 28.3% to 29.9%, ahead of Star Alliance (26.2%) and significantly to oneworld (9.5%).

North Asia total capacity (seats) share (%) by alliance: Sep-2011






In the wider Asia Pacific market, SkyTeam now commands 19.1% of total capacity (seats), up 1 percentage point and now trails Star by less than one percentage point.

Asia Pacific total capacity (seats) share (%) by alliance: Sep-2011






The alliances battle for Asia heats up

China Airlines becomes the 15th airline to join SkyTeam, which is expected to grow to 19 members by 2012, with the addition of Garuda Indonesia, as well as Aerolineas Argentinas, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Middle East Airlines. Xiamen Airlines has also formally submitted an application to SkyTeam Alliance. The carrier, a subsidiary of China Southern Airlines, has received unanimous approval from the SkyTeam Alliance Council, with the alliance to now form a project team to work with the Chinese carrier over the next 12 months to ensure the carrier satisfies all requirements prior to joining. Xiamen Airlines is expected to formally join the alliance in late 2012 to mid-2013.

A fascinating battle between the two alliance heavyweights, Star and SkyTeam is set to unfold in coming years, though oneworld is fighting back with its own list of future members, including Kingfisher and Malaysia Airlines.


The second largest of the three major alliances, SkyTeam has 15 members, including Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, TAROM and Vietnam Airlines, operating to 168 countries and regions.




Star Alliance

Alliance members


American Airlines

British Airways

Cathay Pacific



Japan Airlines


Malev Hungarian Airlines


Royal Jordanian

S7 Airlines



Air Europa

Air France


China Airlines

China Eastern Airlines

China Southern Airlines

CSA Czech Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Kenya Airways

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Korean Air

Shanghai Airlines


Vietnam Airlines

Adria Airways

Aegean Airlines

Air Canada

Air China

Air New Zealand


Asiana Airlines

Austrian Airlines



Brussels Airlines

Continental Airlines

Croatia Airlines


LOT Polish Airlines


Scandinavian Airlines

Shenzhen Airlines

Singapore Airlines

South African Airways



TAM Airlines

TAP Portugal

Thai Airways

Turkish Airlines

United Airlines

US Airways

Pending Members


Air Berlin

Kingfisher Airlines

Malaysia Airlines

Aerolineas Argentinas

China Airlines

Garuda Indonesia

Middle East Airlines

Saudi Arabian Airlines

Aerolineas Argentinas

Xiamen Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines


Copa Airlines



Flights from Sydney to Taipei are operated in advanced Airbus A330-300 aircraft configured with 30 business class seats and 271 economy seats.

China Airlines’ A330-300s are equipped with advanced Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) entertainment consoles which allow passengers to freely choose from an extensive library of movies – current blockbusters to classic films – as well as short films.

Meanwhile China Airlines’ fleet of B747-400 aircraft have been retrofitted in a major upgrade of cabin amenities.

Used on select long haul routes, China Airlines’ fleet of retrofitted B747-400 aircraft are operated in a three class configuration.

There are 12 21 in. wide first class seats which recline 180° and 49 20 in. business class seats which recline 160°.  The 319 17 in. ergonomic economy class seats recline 110°.  

(Source: 29SEP2011)


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China Airlines has upgraded its B747-400 aircraft to include the latest Audio Video on Demand entertainment consoles



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