On May 12, during the takeoff of a Tibet Airlines flight from Chongqing to Nyingchi, the crew found that the plane had abnormally aborted takeoff, and the plane veered off the runway and caught fire.
There were 113 passengers and 9 crew members on the plane. Fortunately, all passengers and crew members were evacuated safely, and the injured passengers were all slightly injured.
However, the plane was badly damaged, and it was horrific to see from the pictures of the scene.
On July 26, 2011, Tibet Airlines, which had been in preparation for more than six years, took off from Lhasa and made its maiden flight to Ali, opening the road to the development of the first high-altitude airline in China.
At the beginning of its establishment, Tibet Airlines was 51% held by Tibet Autonomous Region Investment Co., Ltd., the other 39% was held by Tibet Sanli Investment Co., Ltd., and Tibet Ruiyi Investment Co., Ltd. held 10%.
Tibet Autonomous Region Investment Co., Ltd. belongs to the Tibet Autonomous Region Department of Finance, and the major shareholder of Tibet Sanli Investment Co., Ltd. is a real estate company, Sichuan Sanli Real Estate Co., Ltd. Judging from the industrial and commercial registration information, this real estate company is a family business, and Tibet Ruiyi Investment Co., Ltd., a minority shareholder of Tibet Airlines, is also its concerted action.
Later, Air China spent 86.8 million yuan to purchase 31% of the shares of Tibet Autonomous Region Investment Co., Ltd., becoming the second shareholder of Tibet Airlines, and selected a number of outstanding pilots, flight attendants, and engineering technicians to support Tibet Airlines. Layers are also from Air China.
For example, its first chairman Xu Bo and second chairman Cheng Yiru have served as general manager of Air China Tibet Branch and General Manager of Air China Southwest Branch respectively.
In 2020, Wei Boping, who used to work at Qinghai Airport, succeeded Cheng Yiru as the chairman of Tibet Airlines, while Bai Weisan, the general manager, is still from the Air China department and served as the vice president of Shandong Airlines and the general manager of Beijing Air Catering Company.
After Air China took a stake in Tibet Airlines, Tibet Sanli Investment, a private enterprise, became the single largest shareholder of Tibet Airlines due to the dilution of the equity of the Tibet Autonomous Region government. However, the appointment of officials of Tibet Airlines is still up to the autonomous region government.
For example, the cadre meeting held by Tibet Airlines in August 2020 was presided over by the vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The deputy director of the Organization Department of the Party Committee of the autonomous region announced the appointment of the main leaders of Tibet Airlines and nominated Wei Boping as the chairman candidate.
After all, the combined shareholdings of Air China and the Tibet Autonomous Region can still absolutely control Air Tibet. However, Air China’s control over Air Tibet does not seem to be as strong as it is in Shandong Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines.
Although the vice president of marketing of Tibet Airlines is still appointed by Air China, since September 1, 2019, Air China and Tibet Airlines have “separated” in terms of frequent flyer programs.
The Tibetan Airlines plane that suffered the accident was an Airbus A319 aircraft known as the “Little Prince of the Plateau”, which is also the largest in the Tibet Airlines fleet.
At present, Tibet Airlines has a total of 27 Airbus A319 aircraft, 6 Airbus A320 aircraft, and 5 Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft. 60% of the routes it operates are also plateau routes.
Because it is more difficult to fly high-altitude flights, the pilots of Tibet Airlines also have a “reputation” for high salaries in the industry.
Years ago, a captain mentioned in an article about pilot salaries: “In theory, the revenue of Tibetan Airlines is the highest in the civil aviation industry. The problem is that there are many routes on the plateau of Tibet Airlines, and the hourly fee on the plateau (the main part of the pilot’s income, which is paid according to the flight time) is doubled or even tripled. But I don’t envy it. It’s not good. The difficulty of flying has increased exponentially (the consideration of obstacle-surmounting performance on the plateau, the special handling plan, the unpredictable strange wind, the attenuation of the aircraft’s power under low pressure, the entanglement between the high plateau take-off speed, and the excessive wheel speed… …), the rapid change of air pressure in a short period of time every day is very harmful to the body (Once, I had a cold, and my nose was not breathing, but I still insisted on flying, which caused aviation otitis media. I went home for a week to recuperate. Another time, I went flying within seven days of having my wisdom teeth extracted, and my face was swollen due to bleeding from the teeth.) High altitude overnight will cause hypoxia in the human body, sleep well, and the blood oxygen concentration will change when you wake up the next day. The job of a pilot is not easy, and the high-altitude pilots deserve more money.”
According to industry sources, despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic last year, Tibet Airlines still gave all staff a salary increase, and the salary has been relatively stable since the pandemic. In addition to a slight loss last year due to the pandemic, Tibet Airlines has also been profitable in the past few years.
Tibet Airlines’ good benefits are related to its unique route network structure.
Although it is registered in Tibet, the main base of Tibet Airlines is in Chengdu, and Lhasa is the sub-base.
According to the flight manager big data platform, in 2021, among the 20 busiest routes of Tibet Airlines, 10 will involve Lhasa, and 8 will involve Chengdu, of which the Chengdu Shuangliu-Lhasa Gonggar will have the most flights.
In April 2019, Tibet Airlines also opened its first international long-haul route, becoming the first domestic airline to fly directly to Helsinki, Finland, but the departure city is not its own base, but Jinan.
However, the route had been flying for less than a year before it ceased operations after the outbreak.
In 2014, Tibet Airlines also “going overseas” to Nepal and established a new airline: Himalaya Airlines.
At the beginning of its establishment, Himalaya Airlines was established by Tibet Airlines and Nepal Airlines, with Tibet Airlines holding 49% of the shares. At that time, it was also the first Chinese airline company to invest in air transportation in Nepal.
In 2015, Himalaya Airlines made its maiden flight to Colombo, and successively opened several routes to China from Kathmandu to Beijing, Guiyang, Changsha, Shenzhen, and Chongqing, as well as more than ten routes to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
In 2019, by opening the Kathmandu-Beijing Daxing route, Himalaya Airlines became the first foreign airline to enter Beijing Daxing Airport.
At present, Himalaya Airlines has a total of 4 aircraft, including 3 A320 and 1 A319 aircraft. Affected by the pandemic, only some passenger-to-cargo flights are operated on routes to China.
However, in 2021, the A319 aircraft of Himalaya Airlines had gone to Lhasa Airport for a test flight and had obtained the Lhasa Airport operation specification license. It plans to open the Kathmandu-Lhasa route after the pandemic.
According to Tibet Airlines’ “14th Five-Year” development plan, it is expected that by the end of 2025, the company’s fleet will reach 60 aircraft, operate 140 routes, employ more than 7,000 people, and have total assets of more than 26 billion yuan.