China Airlines places long-awaited aircraft order
The deal took almost five years to negotiate. Read More »
China Airlines (CAL) is finally moving forward with narrowbody refleeting, selecting the A321neo to replace 737-800s. CAL plans to introduce 14 leased A321neos from 2021 via unspecified lessors. CAL is still in talks with Airbus to purchase 11 more A321neos with five options.
The A321neo is larger than the 737-800, reflecting a common theme of up-gauging for unit cost reduction and due to slot limits. CAL said in a statement: “After assessing all relevant aircraft features and considering the congestion of neighboring airports in Asia, China Airlines has selected Airbus A321neo as the optimum aircraft for the regional narrowbody operations.”
The leased and planned firm order totals 25 aircraft, half of the 50 narrowbody aircraft CAL mooted in early 2015. At the time, relations between Taiwan and mainland China were stronger. CAL’s management at the time pinned the large order on growing Cross-Strait traffic. Subsequent government and management changes repeatedly delayed the order. In October 2017 the order was revised downwards to more than 20 aircraft with an announcement planned by the end of the year.
CAL has 19 737-800s, with some dating back to the turn of the millennium. Tigerair Taiwan has 11 A320s dating from 2011 to recent times. CAL previously said the narrowbody order could be for all airlines in the group, but the order announcement did not mention airline placement. CAL’s Mandarin Airlines no longer flies the 737.
This is the first narrowbody acquisition since CAL took 777-300ERs and A350-900s with radically new interiors. CAL says “brand new cabin designs will be implemented in the new narrowbody aircraft, including seating configuration and in-flight entertainment system”.
CAL’s order with Airbus could include an update on the six A350-900 options CAL has. Airbus had hoped CAL would exercise the six options or convert them to -1000s.