Although the PLAAF and its China United subsidiary would get the first 4 TU-154s in China the CAAC itself would acquire some of this first batch of TU-154s too. In fact it got the lion's share with thirteen aircraft joining in 1985/86. They didn't remain with the CAAC for very long however due to the changes afoot in the Chinese industry.
As the 1960s drew to a close the CAB in the USA was looking for ways to wean the local service airlines off of subsidies. This meant a gradual movement away from serving local communities and instead using economies of scale to serve wider regions. The result was mergers, including the unique tri-merger that created 'The airline that had to happen' - Air West!
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: