Wed, Oct 09, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Boeing Dreamliner jets to boost EVA fleet size to 93

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

EVA Airways Corp president Clay Sun, left, shakes hands with Boeing Co vice president Christy Reese at a delivery ceremony at the planemaker’s factory in South Carolina on Monday.

Photo: Kao Shih-ching, Taipei Times

EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) plans to expand its fleet size from 79 to 93 aircraft by 2022 after taking delivery of all 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jetliners that it ordered in 2015 to serve high-density routes.

The airline has so far received four 787-9 aircraft and four 787-10 jets, the latest of which arrived from the US yesterday.

The deal was valued at more than US$7 billion, according to the list price at that time.

EVA is expected to receive five more 787-10 jets next year, another five in 2021 and six more in 2022, EVA president Clay Sun (孫嘉明) told reporters at a delivery ceremony at Boeing Co’s factory in South Carolina on Monday.

The addition of the wide-body 787 Dreamliners, which have a range of 6,100 to 7,100 nautical miles (11,297km to 13,149km) with a full load of passengers, would provide EVA with new momentum in the next few years, Sun said.

The company is using most of the new aircraft on short-haul flights, such as from Taiwan to Tokyo, Osaka, Japan, and Hong Kong, and would expand their use to long-haul flights, Sun said.

The airline plans to start using the aircraft in flights from Taiwan to Brisbane, Australia, later this month and to Vancouver, Canada, in the first quarter of next year, expanding the current service between Taiwan and Vienna, Austria, he said.

EVA would use part of its 787 fleet on some intra-Asian routes, such as from Taiwan to Chengdu, China, Hanoi, Vietnam, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in light of the rising number of passengers, he added.

Despite being the first carrier in the world to offer premium economy class — which is between economy class and business class in terms of price and comfort — EVA has decided not to equip its 787 fleet with it, as some of the aircraft would be used on short-haul flights, in which passengers are less willing to pay more for better seats, Sun said.

The older, rented single-aisle Airbus A321-200 jetliners would be used in flights to second-tier cities in China and Southeast Asia, as well as on supplementary flights to Tokyo in the winter, he said.

As 10-year lease contracts for 24 A321-200 planes would expire in a few years — three in 2022 and 21 by 2026 — EVA plans to purchase new narrow-body jets, either the Airbus A321neo or Boeing 737 MAX, Sun said.

Despite 737 MAX aircraft being grounded worldwide since March and the US planemaker has yet to solve the problems following two crashes since October last year, EVA would still consider the aircraft as an option, he said.

“No airline dares purchase the 737 MAX for the time being, but Airbus’ production schedule for its A321neo is full. We hope Boeing can provide a solution soon,” Sun said.

“We are not rushing to make a call, as we still have plenty of time to evaluate the performance of the two [kinds of] aircraft and how Boeing will solve the problem, because we can still extend the lease on the older A321-200s,” he said.

The airline would reach a decision in the middle of next year at the earliest and would not purchase the 737 MAX before regulators worldwide allow the airplane to fly, EVA spokesman David Chen (陳耀銘) said.

With second-quarter net profit shrinking 98 percent from a year earlier to NT$33 million (US$1.07 million) due to a strike that began in June, EVA’s net profit dropped 42 percent to NT$1.94 billion in the first half of the year.

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