Wed, Mar 06, 2002 - Page 17 News List

EVA stands firm on Boeing order

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER

EVA Airways Corp (長榮) said yesterday there were no changes to its intention to order 777 airliners made by Boeing Co. This was despite media reports that said the airline was finalizing plans to back out of the purchase agreement.

"We have signed a contract with Boeing ... we expect to start taking delivery of these aircraft in 2005," EVA spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) said.

The report, from international financial news service Bloomberg LP, is "totally wrong," he said.

Boeing also denied the report, responding to media queries in a statement by saying "EVA Airways signed an agreement as a launch customer for Boeing 777-200LR two years ago. As of this release, EVA Airways has no plan to change the first scheduled delivery that's set for 2005."

Bloomberg, in a report on Monday, said that during an interview EVA chairman Yu Chong-ho (游長和) had said that the company was ``finalizing a plan to cancel the Boeing 777 orders'' and focus on regional routes.

In June 2000, EVA placed an order worth US$3 billion for seven passenger aircraft, three B777-200LRs and four B777-300ERs, with options on eight more.

Cancellation of the Boeing order by EVA -- which remains the only customer for the yet-to-be-produced jets -- would have been a boon for Airbus, who competes against the 777s with its comparable A340 series of long-range aircraft. While stating that the order remains unchanged, EVA said in a statement that it had not ruled out the possibility of altering its eight options.

"Both Boeing and Airbus are in regular contact with EVA," Nieh said. "Boeing wants to sell its 777s and Airbus wants to sell its A340s. Both are being evaluated and it's a hard decision to make."

An Airbus executive who requested anonymity admitted that the European aircraft manufacturer had been aggressively marketing the A340-500s to EVA -- which are currently undergoing tests and are set for delivery by the end of the year.

But EVA has a record of canceling Airbus orders. In 1997, EVA ordered six long-range A340-500s. It bailed out of the deal in 2000 and instead decided to purchase Boeing 777s.

Airbus eventually broke Boeing's hold on EVA last January when it sealed an order with Taiwan's second-largest carrier to sell two A330-200s for delivery in 2003.

Rollout of the 777-300ER is slated for later this year. Flight testing of the 777-300ER will take place in 2003 with rollout of 777-200LR airplanes slated for 2004.

Capable of holding 301 passengers, the 777-200LR has a maximum range of 16,400km, enabling it to fly 18 hours non-stop between routes such as New York to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Atlanta, Georgia to Hong Kong.

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