Would You Fly Okay Airways? (Yes, They’re Real, and They Just Took Delivery of a New Boeing…)

Okay Airways (OKAir) is China’s first fully privately owned airline, based in Tianjin.

They’ve been flying for a decade, and nearly sold a 49% stake in themselves to Korean Air shortly after receiving their operating certificate.

Along with ‘Joy Air’ they’re the launch customer for a Chinese-designed turboprop aircraft, the MA700, anticipated to begin flying in 2017. They already operated a dozen MA60s. Their mainline fleet consists of 13 Boeing 737-800s.

They fly from Tianjin to Krabi, and are adding four weekly flights from Xi’an to Krabi and three from Xi’an to Bangkok in the coming months. In addition, they fly Tianjin to Changsha, Chengdu, Haikou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Jiamusi, Kunming, Nanjing and Zhangjiajie.

They’ve now taken delivery of a 737-900, becoming the first operator of that model. Boeing’s press release says they fly “more than 100 domestic and international routes” but I believe that’s mistaken given their limited fleet, I think they operate more than 100 daily flights — although I’d love to be corrected on this.

    Photo courtesy of Boeing

Okay Airways’ new 737-900ER is configured with 200 seats in a one-class layout. It will feature Boeing’s innovative Sky Interior with modern sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, larger pivoting overhead stowage bins, as well as LED lighting that enhances the sense of spaciousness.

In a classic reversal of US brands that simply do not travel well in other languages (like the Chevy Nova in Mexico.. get it? “no va”), Okay Airways may be fine for China but as an American with an upcoming trip to China (love the new 10-year China Visa) I want my airlines to be excellent and not merely okay.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Sometime it’s hard to think positive about a Chinese business, both nations, when the paperwork isn’t professional. You just know management told the workers that took English in school and let them wing it. It’s laughable when even UK companies with web sites can’t change date format and use the American spelling for words.

  2. I’m always quite satisfied, when asked how my flight was, to say “it was okay”. The industry has lowered my expectations sufficiently that an “okay” flight today equals a “great” flight of 20 years ago.

  3. I’d be happy to fly them if it met my needs.

    I don’t blame you for repeating that old chestnut about Nova, since it’s been published so often, and it’s a good story that people would like to be true. But snopes.com labels it false.

    The most obvious reason is that Nova met it sales projections in Latin America, but there are more:

    I’m a Spanish speaker and I can tell you that there’s no reason anyone would confuse “Nova” with “no va” in the first place. They look and sound completely different. It’s like an English speaker confusing “Notable” with “no table.”

    “Nova” is a known word for a type of star, and is a prefix meaning “new”. For example a pro sports rookie is called a “novato”. Mexico’s petroleum giant marketed a grade of gasoline as “Nova”. Why would they do that if they thought the word would cause confusion?

    “No va” isn’t even natural Spanish for “It won’t go.” Just as if you had a broken down car, you’d say, “it doesn’t run,” rather than “it doesn’t go”, a Mexican would say, “No funciona” or “No marcha”.

    The story, which has several different versions, has a life of its own and will no doubt continue to be repeated often in business journals and blogs. No harm done, but it’s really not true.

  4. “I want my airlines to be excellent and not merely okay.”

    Well you know you ain’t getting it from that kind of airline, so maybe they are just setting expectations.

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