Based at Urumqi the new airline served not only regional routes but also a trunk service to Beijing. International services connected Urumqi to Moscow, Bishkek, Almaty, Tashkent, Novosibirsk and Islamabad. The initial fleet was centred around Antonov AN-24s, De Havilland Canada DHC-6s and Tupolev TU-154Ms. The early colour scheme featured a white tail with blue bird but later during the 1990s the tail colours were reversed to make a pleasing scheme.
Re-equipment was an important part of the new Chinese industry but this didn't always mean that airlines were equipped with new Boeings. For China Xinjiang this became obvious when in 1993 it received 3 Ilyushin IL-86s, becoming the only airline oustide of the ex-Soviet states to operate the type. Though spacious and reliably safe the IL-86 was effectively obsolete when it entered service in the 1970s and the fact that it was still being produced in the 1990s was a real indictment of the state of Soviet aviation. Regardless the 3 new IL-86s proved themselves in service for a decade before sale to Kras Air and East Line of Russia.
B-2019 was the last of the trio which faithfully served the carrier until its merger into China Southern. All three were sold back to Russia where this frame, and B-2018, joined Kras Air in June 2003. She became RA-86926. After three years she was sold to Tatarstan Airlines in April 2006 and was still operational as of May 2009.
China Xinjiang was able to acquire more modern equipment with 737-300s also joining in 1993, followed by ATR-72s in 1997, Boeing 757s in 1999 and 737-700s in 2001. The airline however was a casualty of the government orchestrated consolidation of the industry and was merged into China Southern Airlines in 2003.
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: