The polymerase acidic (PA) protein is the third subunit of the influenza A virus polymerase. In recent years, studies have shown that PA plays an important role in overcoming the host species barrier and host adaptation of the avian influenza virus (AIV). The objective of this study was to elucidate the role of the PA subunit on the replication and airborne transmission of the H9N2 subtype AIV. By reverse genetics, a reassortant rSD01-PA was derived from the H9N2 subtype AIV A/Chicken/Shandong/01/2008 (SD01) by introducing the PA gene from the pandemic influenza A H1N1 virus A/swine/Shandong/07/2011 (SD07). Specific pathogen-free (SPF) chickens and guinea pigs were selected as the animal models for replication and aerosol transmission studies. Results show that rSD01-PA lost the ability of airborne transmission among SPF chickens because of the single substitution of the PA gene. However, rSD01-PA could infect guinea pigs through direct contact, while the parental strain SD01 could not, even though the infection of rSD01-PA could not be achieved through aerosol. In description, our results indicate that the protein encoded by the PA gene plays a key role in replication and airborne transmission of the H9N2 subtype AIV.