China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空), the nation’s largest airline, yesterday announced plans to buy six Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for fleet replacement amid stronger demand from routes to Japan and China.
The carrier made the announcement after its board of directors approved the plan on Thursday.
It said it hoped the six aircraft would be delivered in succession from 2014.
“Replacing the fleet is the main reason for the company to buy new aircraft,” CAL spokesman Hamilton Liu (劉國芊) told the Taipei Times by telephone.
The company plans to replace its old wide-body Airbus 340-300 aircraft with the new B777-300ER planes to save on fueling costs and increase efficiency, Liu said.
Compared with the four-engine A340-300 aircraft, a B777-300ER — a wide-body plane able to carry up to 451 passengers — has just two engines, which could reduce fuel consumption by about 20 percent, company data showed.
The rising demand on routes to Japan and China encouraged the carrier to accelerate the pace of buying new planes, Liu added.
Following the signing of an open-skies agreement between Japan and Taiwan, the carrier’s routes and flights to Japan are continuously increasing, Liu said, as are cross-strait routes and flights.
CAL’s fleet currently numbers 71 planes, including six A340-300 aircraft, which the company plans to replace with new planes.
EVA Airways Corp (EVA, 長榮航空), the nation’s second-largest carrier, has added 15 B777-300ER aircraft to its fleet since 2005. In May, it announced it would order seven more B770-300ER planes and it expected to take delivery of these planes from 2014.
Meanwhile, CAL said yesterday it plans to raise NT$12 billion (US$412.9 million) by issuing new corporate bonds next year and would use the proceeds to finance the new aircraft purchases and repay loans.
The amount of next year’s debt issue is twice the size of the NT$6 billion debt it issued this year, company statistics showed.
CAL posted a net profit of NT$384.31 million, or NT$0.08 per share, in the first nine months of the year, the company said in a stock exchange filing.