Northern Airlines

China Northern Airlines was a Chinese airline that operated from Dongta Airport in Liaoning Province in China. It was one of the main airlines in China’s northern region. It was also one of the six major airlines that were established when CAAC’s airline operations were broken up. The airline was founded in 1990 as a successor to Swan Airlines, but in 2002, it was merged with China Southern Airlines; the merger caused China Northern to ceased its own operations.

China Northern was not the only airline that merged with China Southern. The merger also included China Xinyiang Airlines and Zhongyuan Airlines. As a result of the multi-party merger, China Southern Airlines became one of the biggest carriers in China.

Fast Facts

• English name: China Northern Airlines
• Chinese name: 中国北方航空
• Main hubs: Shenyang Taoxian International Airport
• Other hubs: Changchun, Sanya
• Alliance member: SkyTeam (China Southern)
• IATA code: CJ
• ICAO code: CBF
• Headquarters: Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China
• Frequent flyer program: Sky Pearl Club (China Southern)
• Official website: (China Southern)



In 1999, before the merger, China Northern Airlines had a total passenger transportation volume of 36.3 million person-times, and also achieved a total cargo rotation volume of up to 4882 million ton/kms. Before the year ended, the carrier had a total business income of 26.5 billion yuan.

Branches in China

There are no China Northern offices in China anymore. China Southern Airlines, on the other hand, still has 15 different branches scattered all over China. Most of these are found in major regional cities.

Offices around the world

 China Northern did not have international operations in the past save for some flights to South Korea and Japan. Thus, it did not have offices in other parts of the world. China Southern, on the other hand, currently has over 56 sales offices in various countries. The offices are located in the major cities including Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Sydney, Dubai, London, Seoul, and Vancouver.

Main flights

China Northern Airlines’ main flights were regional domestic flights within China.

Other highlights

Since it was established, China Northern Airlines had successfully set up two sub-companies in the transport business plus two holding ventures. The company planned to stick to the principle of having one major business with diversified operations.

Premium Economy Class

Eight years after China Northern Airlines was merged into China Southern, the latter began operating a Premium Economy cabin, which offered economy passengers more seat space at a price just 10% higher than the standard economy ticket. This was deemed to provide excellent value and became a very popular class type in the airline. Soon after, other airlines also began offering this said class.


Northern Airlines was not a member of any airline alliance back in the past. Now, however, China Southern Airlines is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. After the China Northern and China Southern merger was finalized in 2003, China Southern signed an agreement with the alliance. The signing occurred in 2004, and the carrier’s membership became official in 2007.

Aside from its connections thanks to the alliance, China Southern also entered into codeshare agreements with various other airlines, including some from Star Alliance and OneWorld.

Fleet and Destination

Originally, Northern Airlines operated a fleet consisting of:

• Airbus A300
• McDonnell-Douglas MD-80
• McDonnell-Douglas MD-90
• Airbus A321

Its operations were predominantly domestic ones but also included flights to South Korea and Japan. However, China Northern Airlines went through an intense period of expansion before the merger. Its original 50 destinations were expanded to 168, and at its heyday, the airline was able to supply up to 7060 seats for passengers on a daily basis.

Now, China Southern has a total fleet consisting of 360 aircraft. This already includes aircraft that the airline acquired in the merger with China Northern Airlines and two other airlines. It also has 157 orders pending. All in all, the fleet serves more than 200 destinations.

China Southern is also in the process of expansion. It has recently opened up more international routes including flights to Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Melbourne. It is also planning an expansion into South America and Africa.

Luggage Allowance

As is standard, passengers of old China Northern flights had to adhere to luggage restrictions. These restrictions are still in place today for passengers of China Southern, but may have been modified following the merger. China Southern passengers are allowed to bring two types of luggage: hand-carried and checked. Each type of baggage has to meet certain weight and size limits.

• Carry-on luggage. For carry-on luggage, passengers are only able to bring one bag that weighs less than 5 kgs. First class passengers, however, are allowed to divide this total weight into 2 pieces. The luggage should not be bigger than 55xm (H) x 35cm (w) x 20cm (D) to be sure that it will pass all size restrictions both domestically and internationally.
• Checked luggage. Checked luggage are also subject to size and weight restrictions, but these may differ based on the passenger’s route. Please refer to the table below for exact information about luggage allowance as offered by China Southern Airlines.


First Class

Business Class

Premium Economy  Class

Economy Class

Domestic Routes

Total 40kgs*

Total 30kgs

Total 20kgs

Total 20kgs

European Routes

3 pieces/23kgs per piece

3 pieces/23kgs per piece

2 pieces/23kgs per piece

1 piece/23kgs per piece

American Routes

3 pieces/32kgs per piece

2 pieces/32kgs per piece

2 pieces/23kgs per piece

2 pieces/23kgs per piece

Australia/ New Zealand/ Africa/ Middle East (excl. Iran)/ Russia/ African Routes

Total 45kgs

Total 40kgs

Total 35kgs

Total 30kgs

Central & Western Asian Routes**

Total 45kgs

Total 40kgs

Total 35kgs

Total 30kgs

Other Asian Routes

Total 40kgs

Total 35kgs

Total 30kgs

Total 20kgs

Dubai/ Jeddah Routes

Total 50kgs

Total 50kgs

Total 45kgs>

Total 40kgs

In-Flight Food

China Southern Airlines serves food to all in-flight guests regardless of class. However, first and business class passengers are provided with more selections. Premium economy and standard economy class passengers are provided with a standard Western-Chinese meal with 5 choices of beverages. However, passengers on short-haul flights are usually given only snacks and beverages instead of full-course meals due to the limited flying time.

Special Services

Wheelchair service

Passengers with wheelchairs have to check their wheelchairs and can therefore avail of complimentary wheelchair service from check-in to check-out. This service has to be requested for in advance.

Pregnant service

As per standard international ruling, only women under 35 weeks of pregnancy can board airline flights. China Northern adhered to this ruling when it still operated, and now China Southern also stands by this. Women between 32nd and 35th weeks of their pregnancy are also required to provide a recent health certificate.

Frequent Flyer Program

China Northern did not have a frequent flyer program, but China Southern has one now. It is called the Sky Pearl Club, and it is offered to all passengers of the airline as well as to all passengers of the SkyTeam alliance.


List of China Airlines

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