Okay Airways was established in June 2004 and in February 2005 received an aviation carrier business license from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). It is China's first private sector airline. The carrier's maiden flight from its base in Tianjin to Changsha was on March 11, 2005, with 81 people on board.
In August 2005, the airline signed a letter of intent with Korean Air under which it and another Korean company were to have acquired 49% of the airline, but agreement could not be reached over the issue of control and the deal failed. Okay Airways leased three Boeing 737-300F aircraft and started cargo services as a local partner of FedEx Express in March 2007.
On 15 December 2008 the airline suspended passenger operations. Passenger operations resumed on 24 January 2009.
Okay Airways and Joy Air were announced as launch customers for the Xian MA700 aircraft and are to be involved with the development of the aircraft, which is due to make its maiden flight in 2017.
On 25 February 2005 Boeing announced that Okay Airways had received its first Boeing 737-9B5, becoming the first Chinese airline to operate the largest model of the Boeing 737 family. The airline is sub-leasing 2 Boeing 737-900s from Korean Air. These have now been replaced by the two Boeing 737-800 aircraft leased from International Lease Finance.
The airline signed a letter of intent for 30 Xian MA60 aircraft. Once the order is confirmed, delivery schedules will follow.