EVA Airways Corp (EVA, 長榮航空), the nation’s second-largest carrier, plans to raise its passenger capacity to the US by 10 percent next year, because of strong demand following Taiwan’s inclusion in the US’ Visa Waiver Program, a company official said yesterday.
“We will expand routes to the US and increase flight frequency for the US routes that we currently cover,” EVA chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) told a media briefing, adding that cities such as Houston, Chicago and Dallas could be top choices.
In line with the strategy, the airline is considering introducing four additional Boeing 777 series planes, aiming to raise the total number of its 777 fleet to 30 in the long term, Chang said.
The carrier ordered seven Boeing 777-300ER planes in May last year to replace its Boeing 747 series planes, with three set to be delivered in June next year. The carrier currently operates 15 double-aisle 777 series planes.
Chang also expressed his high expectations for subsidiary Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corp (長榮航太科技), an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul specialist, which could land a big contract from Boeing.
“It is not easy for us to get this order from Boeing, as peers from Japan and South Korea are also competing for it,” he said.
However, difficulties in acquiring land have delayed Evergreen Aviation’s plans to build a fourth maintenance hangar, and could leave it with no room to service such an order, Chang said.
Earlier this month, Chang criticized the government’s lack of progress in building a planned airport city around the major international gateway in Taoyuan.
Chang said the nation could still make progress in the aviation industry, but added that he was concerned whether the government could solve the land issue.
Asked about low-cost carriers (LCCs), Chang said EVA is not interested in operating LCCs, adding that their attraction to customers would eventually wane given their limited services.
Chang was optimistic that the passenger business would be EVA’s major driver this year and said that a mild downturn in global crude oil prices would boost the carrier’s profitability.
Moreover, the company's expected participation in the Star Alliance in June will also help increase EVA's network coverage in the passenger sector, Chang said.
EVA Air posted a profit of NT$673.69 million (US$22.6 million), or NT$0.21 per share, in the first nine months of last year.