Taiwan's largest airline company will bring in bigger aircraft to meet demand

By Agency

Eva Air normally uses the A321 plane for flights to smaller Chinese cities. — Wikimedia Commons

Taiwan's Eva Airways plans to cut the number of Airbus SE single-aisle planes in its fleet and bring in bigger aircraft as travel rebounds from the pandemic, according to its president, Sun Chia-ming.

“We have to use widebodies because we can seat more passengers,” Sun said in an interview.

“We are evaluating the future to replace some of the Airbus A321s,” he said on the sidelines of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, recently. “Definitely, we are going to shrink the size of our narrowbodies.”

It hasn’t yet been decided how many of Eva Air’s 24 A321ceo jets will be phased out. That will likely depend on the situation in mainland China, which remains largely closed off to travel due to its Covid-19 policies, though Beijing eased some rules last week. Eva Air normally uses its A321s, which can carry up to 184 passengers, for flights to smaller Chinese cities.

“I read some news saying it’s very possible that China won’t open up by the end of next year,” Sun said. “That means it’s bad for us.”

Sun, president of the airline since 2018, said the first priority would be to take delivery of 11 Boeing Co 787-9s and -10s over the next two years. Eva Air’s dual-aisle 787s seat between 304 and 342 passengers. Once those are delivered, a fresh order of widebody planes will be discussed, he said.

Eva Air will also gradually withdraw its 12 Airbus A330 widebody aircraft from next year through 2029. It has a fleet of 80 passenger aircraft overall.

Taiwan’s largest privately held airline has been profitable since the second quarter of 2021, when the pandemic was beginning to unfold, as robust air cargo business helped offset strict border controls, including Taiwan banning transit passengers. The island scrapped inbound quarantine last month.

Eva Air expects passenger capacity to return to 80% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023 from about 50% now. There’s no guarantee that its routes in China, which accounted for 11% of pre-Covid flight capacity, will all resume when the border reopens, Sun said.

In the meantime, more flights are planned to Europe and North America, he said, without elaborating. – Bloomberg

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