Wed, Jul 22, 2015 - Page 13 News List

EVA Air buys five new freight aircraft from Boeing

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

EVA Air chairman Chang Kuo-wei, left, and Boeing Commercial Airplanes global sales and marketing senior vice president John Wojick laugh during a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: EPA

EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) yesterday signed a NT$50 billion (US$1.6 billion) deal with Boeing Co to procure five new freight aircraft.

The Taiwanese carrier is expected to receive the first of five Boeing 777 Freighters in October 2017 and have all five in operation by September 2019, EVA Air chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) said.

The 777 Freighter uses about 20 percent less fuel than the older Boeing 747-400 cargo aircraft in the company’s fleet, Chang said.

He said that it is crucial for the company to modernize its fleet, as the cargo sector is beset by dwindling margins and declining transport volume.

“The Boeing 747-400 is no longer the ideal choice, as there is no longer enough demand to fill it to capacity on each flight,” Chang said, adding that the 777 Freighter’s smaller capacity of 85 to 90 tonnes affords much more flexibility.

The new aircraft also shares many characteristics with other 777 series aircraft in EVA Air’s fleet, which will allow pilots to easily switch between flying cargo and passenger aircraft and simplify maintenance, he said.

EVA Air also plans to purchase 24 to 26 passenger aircraft in 2018 or 2019, which is expected to be one of the carrier’s largest procurement bids ever, Chang said.

The company is considering the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350, and has urged Boeing senior vice president John Wojick to provide a more “friendly” price in the upcoming purchase, he said.

In light of the carrier’s lengthy history with Boeing aircraft powered by General Electric Co (GE) engines, Chang said that the 787 would be the ideal choice, as the A350 is powered by Rolls-Royce PLC engines, which would complicate maintenance.

Growth prospects are expected to be constrained for its maintenance business, he said.

“In terms of engine maintenance, many manufacturers are requiring clients to use their own first-party services or risk having their warranties voided, leaving other operators out of the picture,” Chang said.

Evergreen Aviation Precision Corp (EGAP, 長榮航與精密), an affiliated business of EVA Airways, has started shipments of its rigid cargo barriers for Boeing freight aircraft and has delivered 11 units since December last year as part of a contract that runs through 2019, he said.

GE awarded EGAP a six-year contract to supply 45 parts for the US company’s next-generation LEAP (leading-edge aviation propulsion) engine, he added.

Chang said the Taiwanese firm is striving to establish a vertically integrated aviation supply chain, aiming to tap into the market for aircraft parts assembly.

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