Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 10 News List

China Airlines takes helm of newest Boeing

SEATTLE HANDOVER The 747-400 can seat up to 390 passengers and will make its maiden in-service flight on Sunday with a trip from Taipei to Tokyo

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN EVERETT, WASHINGTON

China Airlines chairman Chaing Yao-chung, center right, and Boeing 767 program vice president and general manager John Quinlivan, center left, cut a ribbon at the delivery ceremony in Seattle, Washington, in which Boeing delivered a brand new 747-400 passenger jet to the airline.

PHOTO: JESSIE HO, TAIPEI TIMES

China Airlines (CAL, 華航), the nation's largest carrier, welcomed the newest member of its fleet by taking delivery of a brand new Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft from US aircraft maker Boeing Co on Tuesday.

The aircraft, featuring Boeing's new dynamic blue-and-white livery with China Airlines' plum blossom on the tail, is equipped with Boeing's next-generation signature interior that aims to provide more comfort to passengers.

"We have spared no effort in launching innovative services and products, and this new 747 aircraft will allow us to extend our market leadership," CAL chairman Chiang Yao-chung (江耀宗) said at the delivery ceremony.

The three-class 747-400 seats 390 passengers and has a high ceiling that provides more cabin room and larger overhead stowage bins, along with more inflight entertainment programs.

The jumbo jet's maiden in-service flight will be a Dec. 12 trip from Taipei to Tokyo. Later it will be used on long range routes such as the Taipei-Los Angeles service.

By the end of this year, the airline will take delivery of another 747-400 and one A330-300 from Airbus SAS, increasing the size of its fleet to 63.

Over the next 12 months it will add another 13 aircraft -- four 747-400 passenger jets, three 747-400 freighters and six A330 passenger planes, significantly reducing the average age of its fleet from the current five years and eight months, said CAL spokesman Roger Han (韓梁中).

The airlines flies to 48 passenger and cargo destinations in 22 nations. According to survey done last year by the International Air Transport Association, the overall size of China Airlines' passenger operations ranked 26th in the world. Its cargo operations ranked 7th.

Undaunted by surging fuel prices, CAL saw better-than-expected financial results this year due to rising demand for both passenger and cargo traffic.

In October, it raised its pre-tax income forecast for the year to NT$4.05 billion (US$126 million ), a 29-percent increase from the NT$3.15 billion it predicted last December.

To meet the market demand, China Airlines launched flights to Seattle, Houston and Hiroshima this year. The results have been so good that it plans to add one more flight per week for a total of four flights a week on its Taipei-Seattle route starting next month, Han said.

As the carrier heads toward its 45th anniversary, its first goal is to ensure flight safety, Han said.

On top of stricter discipline the carrier has placed on pilot and crew training, the new aircraft will help it simplify its fleet to strengthen security, Han said.

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