China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空) yesterday said it has taken delivery of the first of its three new Boeing Co 737-800 aircraft from International Lease Finance Corp (ILFC), allowing it to cope with rising Asian demand.
The delivery was completed on Tuesday in Los Angeles, with the plane arriving in Taiwan yesterday, the nation’s largest carrier said in a press release.
The joining of these three single-aisle B737 planes will further strengthen CAL’s competitiveness in the short-haul market in Asia, the release said.
“The airline is facing with robust demand in its regional operations, including cross-strait, Japan, South Korea and Northeast Asia markets,” CAL chairman Sun Hung-hsiang (孫洪祥) said.
The carrier entered into the leasing agreement with ILFC — a wholly owned subsidiary of American International Group Inc — last year. Another two B737-800 aircraft will be delivered by the end of June, CAL said.
The delivery is part of the company’s fleet replacement efforts, which began this year and are to continue through 2020. After the B737-800s, the company is expected to receive its orders of Airbus’ SAS 330, 350 and B777 series aircraft in succession.
Sun last month said that CAL’s board had also agreed to add next-generation, narrow-body aircraft to its fleet by the end of this year. As of the end of last month, the company had a 51-plane fleet.
Despite the company’s positive outlook for this year, foreign brokerage JPMorgan Securities Ltd recently warned that the emergence of a new strain of avian influenza may impact passenger traffic.
In April 2003, CAL’s passenger volume fell 49 percent from a year earlier, followed by a 67 percent and 45 percent year-on-year decline in May and June of that year respectively. It took five months for CAL’s business to recover to pre-SARS levels, JPMorgan analyst Corrine Png (方華婷) said in a report on Friday last week.