CAAC Airlines (Chinese: ?) was the airline division of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the monopoly civil airline in the People's Republic of China. It began operating scheduled domestic flights in 1949. In 1988, the monopoly was broken up and CAAC Airlines was split into six regional airlines, which later consolidated into China's Big Three airlines: Beijing-based Air China, Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines, and Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines.
In 1962, CAAC began operating international services, initially to other countries in the communist bloc such as the Soviet Union, Mongolia, North Korea, Burma, Bangladesh, North Vietnam, and Cambodia. By the mid-1980s, CAAC had long-haul service to the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia, mainly using American Boeing aircraft, while continuing to use Soviet aircraft on routes to Eastern Europe.
In 1988, CAAC Airlines split into six separate airlines, each named after the geographic region of their main operating areas:
CAAC used the IATA code CA on international flights only; domestic flights were not prefixed with the airline code.
CAAC aircraft livery featured Chinese national flag on the vertical stabilizer, with blue stripes and Chinese version of CAAC logo (in the calligraphy of Premier Zhou Enlai) on a white fuselage.
CAAC's fleet in 1988
Before dissolution in 1988 the fleet of CAAC Airlines consisted of:
Fleet retired before 1987
- 5 April 1958
- CAAC Ilyushin Il-14 632 crashed 70 km (43 mi) from Xi'an while operating a Chengdu-Xi'an-Taiyuan-Beijing passenger flight, killing all 14 on board.
- September 26, 1961
- CAAC Shijiazhuang Y-5 18188 crashed into Qinglongshan (Blue Dragon Mountain), Henan Province, killing all 15 on board.
- 15 February 1966
- CAAC Shijiazhuang Y-5 18152 struck a mountain in Gansu Province in poor visibility; both pilots survived.
- December 5, 1968
- CAAC Ilyushin Il-14 640 crashed 1209 meters south of Beijing Capital International Airport when landing, killing 10 people on board, including scientist Guo Yonghuai.
- 14 November 1970
- CAAC Ilyushin Il-14 616 struck a mountain near Guiyang, killing six.
- May 1972
- A CAAC Lisunov Li-2 overshot the runway at Dalian Zhoushuizi Airport, killing 6 occupants.
- January 14, 1973
- CAAC Ilyushin Il-14 644 struck a mountain near Guiyang, killing all 29 on board.
- January 21, 1976
- CAAC Antonov An-24 B-492 crashed on approach to Changsha Huanghua Airport, killing all 40 on board.
- August 26, 1976
- A CAAC Ilyushin Il-14 crashed during landing in Chengdu, killing 12 passengers.
- March 14, 1979
- CAAC Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E B-274 crashed into a factory in Beijing on climbout from Xijiao Airport during a training flight, killing all 12 on board and 32 on the ground.
- March 20, 1980
- CAAC Antonov An-24RV B-484 crashed and burned near Changsha Huanghua Airport, killing all 26 on board.
- April 26, 1982
- CAAC Flight 3303, a Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E (B-266), crashed into a mountain near Yangshuo while on approach to Guilin, killing all 112 on board.
- July 25, 1982
- CAAC Flight 2505, an Ilyushin Il-18V (B-220), was hijacked en route from Xi'an to Shanghai. The co-pilot and navigator were wounded and a bomb exploded when passengers overpowered the hijackers. The aircraft landed at Shanghai with two engines flamed out.
- December 24, 1982
- CAAC Flight 2311, an Ilyushin Il-18B (B-202), burst into flames while landing at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, killing 25 of 69 on board.
- May 5, 1983
- CAAC Flight 296, a Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E (B-296), was hijacked while en route from Shenyang Dongta Airport to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and landed at the US Army base Camp Page in South Korea. The incident marked the first direct negotiations between South Korea and China, which did not have formal relations at the time.
- September 14, 1983
- CAAC Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E B-264 collided with a Harbin H-5 bomber while taxiing at Guilin Qifengling Airport. 11 of 106 on board were killed.
- January 18, 1985
- CAAC Flight 5109, an Antonov An-24B (B-434), crashed in drizzle and fog while performing a missed approach to Jinan, killing 38 of 41 on board.
- December 15, 1986
- CAAC Antonov An-24RV B-3413 crashed while attempting to return to Lanzhou after an engine failed due to icing, killing 6 of 44 on board.
- June 16, 1987
- CAAC Boeing 737-2T4 B-2514 collided with a Shenyang J-6 at Fuzhou Airport; the J-6 crashed, killing the pilot while the 737 landed safely.
- August 31, 1988
- CAAC Flight 301, a Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E (B-2218), struck approach lights at Kai Tak Airport and struck a lip, collapsing the right main landing gear; the aircraft then slid off the runway into Kowloon Bay, killing 7 of the 89 on board. The cause was undetermined, but windshear may have been a factor.