EVA Air was established in March 1989 by Dr. Chang Yung-Fa, chairman and founder of Evergreen Line – the international container shipping leader, as the first private international airline in Taiwan after the decision of the Taiwanese government to liberalize the country’s air transportation system. Within a few months, the airline placed orders for 26 aircraft with the Boeing Company and McDonnell Douglas.
In the summer of 1991, EVA Air launched flights with a small fleet of Boeing 767-300ER aircraft featuring business and economy class seating. EVA Air’s first destinations were Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Singapore, and Seoul. By the end of the year, the airline had added a few other destinations in East Asia and Vienna, its first European destination.
In December 1992, EVA Air entered the U.S. market with a nonstop route between Taipei and Los Angeles. Along with transpacific flights operated with the first of its Boeing 747-400 aircraft, EVA Air introduced one of the very first premium economy services, Economy Deluxe – now named Elite Class.
In 1993, EVA Air added flights to Bangkok, Seattle, New York, and London’s Heathrow Airport. By 1994, EVA Air was carrying over 3 million passengers annually, providing regular service to 22 destinations worldwide.
In the mid-1990s, EVA Air expanded into the domestic Taiwan market by acquiring shares in Makung International Airlines, Great China Airlines and Taiwan Airways. In July 1998, all three carriers, as well as EVA Air’s domestic operations, merged under the name UNI Air. UNI Air became EVA Air’s domestic subsidiary, operating short-haul flights out of its base in Kaohsiung.
In 2000, EVA Air started its first major long-haul fleet renewal, becoming one of the launch customers for Boeing 777-300ER. At the same time, the airline placed three orders for the Boeing 777-200LR and, in January 2001, ordered its first Airbus aircraft, the A330-200. The Airbus A330 aircraft were intended for regional Asian routes while the Boeing 777 aircraft were intended for the US and European services.
In 2003, with the delivery of the first Airbus 330-200, EVA Air rolled out Premium Laurel Class, a comfortable and technologically advanced business cabin. The service was further upgraded in 2005 when the airline took delivery of the first 777-300ERs and introduced lie-flat seats.
In 2005, EVA Air teamed up with the Japanese company Sanrio Corp. to introduce the unique EVA Hello Kitty Jets, two A330-200 featuring a Hello Kitty livery and the Hello Kitty motif on the interior. The Hello Kitty livery was retired in 2009 but returned in redesigned form in 2011 and 2012 when EVA Air painted 5 Airbus A330-300 in an all-new Hello Kitty livery.
In 2007, EVA Air coped with the surge in fuel prices, which contributed to a USD 61.2 million loss. In August 2008, after reporting a second quarterly loss due to increased fuel costs, the airline implemented cost-saving measures, including fee increases and flight schedule reductions. The airline returned to profitability in the first quarter of 2009.
In 2010, EVA Air began service to Toronto and nonstop flights connecting the inner-city Taipei Songshan and Tokyo Haneda airports. In 2011, the airline began nonstop flights from Taipei to Guam and nonstop service from New York (JFK) to Taipei.
In December 2012, EVA AIR was unanimously accepted as Star Alliance member. EVA Air added Kaohsiung (Taiwan) and Surabaya (Indonesia) as unique airports to the Star Alliance network.
In October 2013, EVA Air chose an Airbus 321-200 to be the second aircraft in its fleet to brandish its special Star Alliance livery, and also was the first in Taiwan to be equipped with fuel-saving sharklet wingtip devices. EVA deployed the aircraft on regional routes, upgrading the passenger comfort on its short-haul and medium-haul flights, in accordance with the alliance’s guidelines.
In May 2014, EVA Air’s 16th and 17th Boeing 777-300ER were the first in the world equipped with Panasonic’s latest generation eX3 in-flight entertainment system and Global Communication Suite (GCS). With this system, EVA Air offers passengers SMS roaming service to send and receive short messages on their own mobile phones. The airline also provides Sky Wi-Fi access.
In January 2015, industry experts at AirlineRatings.com ranked EVA Air 7th among the world’s top-10 airlines, as a company of choice for business and leisure travel in 2015. The website’s editors also gave EVA Air with one of its coveted Excellence Awards, as the Best Long-Haul Airline Asia/Pacific among other carriers based in the region.
In February 2015, Germany’s AERO International Magazine ranked EVA Air 3rd among the world’s safest airlines, after ranking among the top 10 seven times since 2004. With its high standards and safety programs, EVA has solid standing among leading international airlines and ranks just behind Cathay Pacific Airways and Emirates.
Since June 2016, EVA Air is a 5-star airline, rated by Skytrax, along with only 9 other airlines in the world.
In August 2017, EVA Air retired the last Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft from its fleet, replacing them with Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
In 2018, EVA Air will take delivery of its first of 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and plans to operate them on medium-haul routes and some long-haul flights.
EVA Air maintained a safety record without any flight fatalities or losses for its entire 21 years of operation.