Air China is the flag carrier and one of the major airlines of the People's Republic of China. Based in Beijing it is one of the world’s largest airlines in terms of fleet size but ranks behind its main competitors, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, in terms of passenger traffic.
Airlines ordered to step up checks
Airlines have been ordered to step up safety checks in an urgent circular issued yesterday by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Xinhua reported.
The circular ordered airline operators to carry out thorough checks and look into any potential safety risks, particularly on international routes.
Semi-official China News Service quoted a CAAC official as saying the authorities did not exclude the possibility of pilot error, but that the cause of the incident was still being investigated.
'Bad weather and the lack of experience of the pilot could be one of the causes of this incident,' the official was quoted as saying.
Peter Lok Kung-nam, former director of civil aviation in Hong Kong, said the incident would not harm China's reputation for aviation safety. China had an outstanding air safety record and its safety standards had improved tremendously in the past 10 years, he said.
'Despite the fast growth in air traffic volume in China, the number of aviation accidents [involving mainland airlines] is actually reducing. It shows that China has been improving its aviation safety,' he added.
Speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong yesterday, the chairman of China Southern Airlines, Yan Zhiqing, said he believed public confidence would not be affected by a single accident and the company would forge ahead with plans to increase flights to South Korea and Japan to meet the extra demand due to the World Cup.
Aviation Safety Network statistics show there were 14 accidents involving mainland airlines in the past 10 years. The worst occurred on June 6, 1994, in Xian when a plane crashed minutes after take-off, killing all 160 people on board.